I missed this a couple days ago. The Sun-Times stopped by during an Apollo Chorus rehearsal just after Thanksgiving and published a feature on us on the 13th:
Well, Chicago’s Apollo Chorus is that type of choir. The members can sing old classics, modern classics and even new standards, and have performed with everyone from Josh Groban to Jackie Evancho. And since December is the holiday season, the chorus — Chicago’s oldest, having been founded in 1872, just after the Chicago Fire — is in full swing.
Led by music director and conductor Stephen Alltop, also a professor at Northwestern University, the chorus’ 120 members perform Handel’s seminary holiday piece in a unique way — without written music.
“It has a very similar flow to an opera, and we try to emphasis dramatic elements of the piece,” says Alltop, when asked how to keep the piece “fresh” after over a century of performances. “To make the best possible connection to the audience, the chorus performs a majority of ‘Messiah’ by heart. And that’s pretty unusual in that it takes a lot of training and preparation to be able to do that. You can get more eye contact, and there’s something that in a way goes beyond what we can describe about how wonderful that is.”
Our sold-out performance on Saturday went very well. We made a few mistakes—the kind only the chorus and Stephen knew about—and we got tremendous recognition from the audience. Plus, with the Messiah, everyone really does go out humming the tunes.
Here's video the Sun-Times took of our rehearsal: