Chicago Children’s Choir’s largest annual fundraiser, Red Jacket Optional, makes grand return with performances featuring Grammy Award-winner Kurt Elling, Natalie Bergman, and others
October 16, 2021
In person for the first time since 2019, this landmark event—broadcast for free online—will celebrate CCC’s 65 years changing lives through music and will imagine a world resounding in unity.
CHICAGO (September 27, 2021)—Chicago Children’s Choir (CCC), a nonprofit organization that empowers and unites youth from diverse backgrounds to become global leaders through music, is thrilled to announce the return of Chicago’s most inspirational gala, Red Jacket Optional, in person for the first time since 2019.
The evening will feature performances by select CCC ensembles alongside a slate of high profile artists that includes Grammy Award-winner Kurt Elling, Chicago native singer-songwriter Natalie Bergman, Eurovision’s Vasil Garvanliev, and acclaimed opera singer Jonathan Green. The concert will take place at The Geraghty (2520 S. Hoyne Ave.) on October 16, 2021, with the free livestream starting at 8:30 p.m. During the event, Chicago Children’s Choir ensembles will captivate audiences with a powerful set that includes a range of musical styles and numbers, including the world premiere of the original composition “Still Here,” by the Choir’s composer-in-residence W. Mitchell Owens III. As in recent years, anyone can watch the evening’s exciting performances for free at rjo.ccchoir.org/watch.
This year’s lively event celebrates the Choir’s 65th anniversary and invites audiences to “Imagine” a more harmonious world.
“We’re ready to show the world what unity looks like,” Josephine Lee, President of Chicago Children’s Choir, said. “This year’s gala is much more than just a fundraiser. The 2021 Red Jacket Optional is an invitation for all of Chicago to join some of the city’s most vibrant, talented youth to imagine a future in which our world, healed by the transformational power of music, thrives in harmony.”
Red Jacket Optional 2021 is co-chaired by Monica Carney, Renee & John Salomon, and Rahul Sekhar & Lauren Johnson Sekhar, and willhonor local philanthropic leaders Mridu & Chandra Sekhar for their long-term service and dedication to embodying CCC’s values in their work across Chicago. The gala itself continues to be a landmark event with awe-inspiring musical performances from CCC, one-of-a-kind dining by the James Beard Award-winning Boka Catering Group, and striking design by Tom Kehoe of Kehoe Designs.
“There really isn’t anything quite like this on the Chicago social calendar,” Red Jacket Optional Co-Chair and CCC Board member Monica Carney said. “As a Chicago Children’s Choir alumna myself, I know firsthand how this experience amplifies the voices of young people and unifies our communities. That’s why we anchor the Choir’s biggest annual fundraiser in an inspiring celebration of the musical excellence that our singers embody every day.”
As one of Chicago’s top galas and highest-netting fundraisers, Red Jacket Optional secures critical funds that deliver empowering music education programs to schools and neighborhoods for young people from every zip code in Chicago—regardless of socioeconomic circumstance.As always,CCC is committed to taking all the appropriate health and wellness precautions to ensure a safe environment for its guests. For those who cannot make it in person, CCC is excited to invite audiences to join the celebration online.
While the evening’s livestream will begin at 8:30 p.m., the in person event will begin at 6:00 p.m. with cocktails, followed by an impeccable dinner curated by Guiseppe Tentori for Boka Catering Group, and, of course, will culminate in exhilarating performances by various Chicago Children’s Choir ensembles.
Tickets are on sale now and will be available until October 4 at rjo.ccchoir.org/tickets.
For more information, visit rjo.ccchoir.org.
About Chicago Children’s Choir
Founded in Hyde Park in direct response to the Civil Rights Movement in 1956, Chicago Children’s Choir (CCC) has grown from one choir into a vast network of in-school, after-school, and online programs driven by one mission: to inspire and change lives through music. CCC has impacted the lives of more than 50,000 diverse youth throughout its 65-year history. Since its founding, CCC has focused on building programs that reflect the racial and economic diversity of Chicago. Eighty percent of youth served are from low-to-moderate income homes and participate completely free of charge. High school seniors enrolled in CCC have a 100 percent graduation rate, becoming global ambassadors who carry on CCC’s core values in a wide array of professional fields.
Under the leadership of President Josephine Lee, Chicago Children’s Choir has achieved new heights and revolutionized the youth choral arts through innovative creative partnerships and new artistic endeavors. The Choir recently collaborated with GRAMMY Award-winning music director and producer Peter CottonTale on his original song “Together” for Google’s 2020 Year in Search video, which went viral with more than 240 million views. Other recent projects include the 2020 PBS national broadcast of the new stage production of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS under the direction of Marin Alsop in July 2018 and 2019 with two frequent creative partners: the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Ravinia Festival; Lyric Opera’s production of Dead Man Walking and Tchaikovsky’s romantic thriller The Queen of Spades with select Chicago Children’s Choir singers cast as the children’s chorus; the world-premiere hip hop musical Long Way Home, written and directed by the renowned Q Brothers Collective, which played to five sold-out houses in 2018 and was subsequently released as a one-of-a-kind album in 2021; and collaboration on Chance the Rapper’s critically-acclaimed directorial debut, Magnificent Coloring World (2021), as well as on his debut studio album The Big Day (2019) and his GRAMMY Award-winning Coloring Book (2016) studio recording and tour performances. CCC has served as a model for youth choirs across the country including Boston Children’s Chorus, Denver Children’s Choir, and Indianapolis Children’s Choir.
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