ANIMA /AH-nee-mah/n. Latin. “breath, life, soul, spirit.”

The joy of singing, fun, friendship, skill mastery, sharing, self-expression, professionalism, discovery, learning, teamwork, self-assessment, outstanding opportunities.

Mission Statement

Transforming young lives through excellence in music education and choral singing.


Our guiding principle is to foster life-long values including: the love of music;the pursuit of excellence; self-discipline and teamwork; self-expression and self-confidence; and a greater understanding of oneself, the world, and its people.

Why Choose Anima?

Anima creates award-winning voices, where every child can be heard. Our team ignites passion in youth, forming leaders, and instilling excellence alongside a fun, joy-filled experience. The literal and figurative harmony created through a community that achieves together has lifelong benefits.


Grammy Awards Won


Continents Toured


Composers commissioned throughout its history


Pieces of new music commissioned throughout its history


Enriched & Transformed Lives

Who has Anima partnered and performed with?

  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  • Lyric Opera of Chicago
  • Chicago Opera Theater
  • Chicago Sinfonietta
  • Ravinia Festival
  • Chicago Bach Project
  • Grant Park Music Festival
  • Music of the Baroque
  • Joffrey Ballet
  • New Philharmonic
  • eighth blackbird
  • Barenaked Ladies
  • Lakeside Singers
  • Elgin Symphony
  • Chicago Sinfonietta
  • Garth Brooks, Julia Roberts
  • and many more!

Where are they now?

  • Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs at Harvard University
  • Director of Strategy and Impact at the National Center for Healthy Housing
  • Director of Choral Activities at the University of North Florida
  • Working as Music teachers at all levels
  • Professional opera singer, Boston, MA
  • Professional singer, Philip Glass Ensemble and Dutch National Opera
  • Professional opera singer, Metropolitan Opera of NYC
  • Software Engineer, Google Headquarters
  • Director, Global Force Posture at Office of the Secretary of Defense
  • Scheduling and Facilities Coordinator for the Music Conservatory CCPA, Roosevelt University
  • Singing with the Chicago Chamber Choir
  • Operations Associate, Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic
  • Account Manager at Meltwater Media
  • Investigative Reporter at WISH TV in Indianapolis

“Anima is a place of refuge and a source of connectedness where high expectations and hard work yield the benefit of successful collaboration. The success is measured in terms of bringing art to life en masse. What a wonderful lesson! It is indeed a great blessing to listen to young voices reach these heights of individual and collaborative excellence. Our own wish as parents has been fulfilled by Anima.”
– Anima Parent

“Prior to Anima my son’s teachers said very different things about him…he didn’t work up to his potential, disorganized, and distracted.  Anima found him and brought out in him all the things that were missing in school and sports: confidence, courage and a work ethic.  Now teachers tell me he is showing great improvement in the classroom and even in sports.”
– Anima Parent

“These young singers take on such challenges fearlessly and accomplish great things with a kind of rare artistic confidence usually found only in the most polished professionals…”
– Donald Nally
Director of Choral Activities, Northwestern University and Founder/Director of The Crossing

“Congratulations to Anima on your 50th anniversary – five decades of sterling service to vocal music and to the advancement of young lives in this noble art.  Everyone you have touched is profoundly grateful. Thank you!”  – Duain Wolfe, Director, Chicago Symphony Chorus

“It is extraordinary to consider the impact of Anima in North America, standard bearers for commissioning projects, adventurous programming, recording and touring, organizational structures, and most importantly—bringing thousands of children into singing and musicianship.  A model for community-based children’s choirs, Anima and the artistic vision of their conductor Emily Ellsworth continues to challenge conductor/teachers to provide relevant and contemporary experiences for young singers. Brilliant.”
-Sandra Snow, Ph.D. Professor, Choral Conducting and Music Education Michigan State University College of Music (Music Director, Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus 1990-1993)



Glen Ellyn Children’s Theater Chorus is founded by Barbara Born (Director, 1964-1972)


Glen Ellyn Children’s Theater Chorus becomes program within the Glen Ellyn Park District


Doreen Rao becomes Music Director

Margaret Hillis extends ‘Honorary Membership’ to the Chicago Symphony Chorus

Brittens’ ‘War Requiem’ debuts at Ravinia with the CSO

Over 20 Ravinia performances to date.


We change our name to Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus


GECC makes our first recording with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra–Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3


GECC makes our performance debut at Grant Park


We begin charging tuition


Chorus hires first administrative staff member

GECC, along with Doreen Rao, is profiled on Chicago CBS program “Two on Two”


Premiere of first commissioned work— Gordon Binkerd’s On the King’s Highway

80+ works by 40 composers commissioned to date


First benefit auction

First international tour to Britten’s birthplace, England

The chorus has taken 19 international tours to 6 continents to date


The chorus receives tax?exempt status and becomes its own not?for?profit organization


GECC receives Grammy and Grand Prix du Disque Awards for recording of Berlioz’ Damnation of Faust with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and Sir Georg Solti


GECC is the first children’s chorus in the US to receive funding from the National Endowment of the Arts

Willliam Buhr is named Principal Accompanist


GRAMMY Award for Schoenberg’s Moses und Aaron with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and Sir Georg Solti


GRAMMY Award for Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and James Levine


Lucy J. Ding is named Music Director

Doreen Rao becomes Music Director Emerita


Sandra Snow is named Music Director


Lisa Roberts Sirvatka is named Music Director


Emily Ellsworth is named Music Director


GECC sings with Sir Georg Solti on the last recording made before his death–Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus


GECC has its first collaboration with the Soul Children of Chicago

The chorus has collaborated with SCC 4 times to date


GECC takes its first international tour beyond Europe and North America, travelling to Australia and New Zealand


GECC receives the ASCAP award from Chorus America for Adventurous Programming


GECC performs by invitation at Carnegie Hall for the national conference of American Choral Directors Association


GECC commissions and premieres Imant Raminsh’s opera The Nightingale and takes it to China for our 40th anniversary season.

The chorus is a featured performer at Chorus America’s national conference

GECC receives the ABBY Award for Arts Management Excellence from the Arts & Business Council of Chicago


GECC receives the once-in-an-organizational lifetime Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence from Chorus America

Changes name to Anima - Young Singers of Greater Chicago


Anima sings with Lyric Opera of Chicago for the first time–Berlioz’ Damnation of Faust

Members of the Chorus have performed in 6 productions at Lyric Opera to date

Anima receives the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award to support a joint commission with eighth blackbird of Nico Muhly's How Soon?


Anima is a featured choir at the national conference of the American Choral Directors Association at Symphony Center in Chicago


Composer accompanies Anima on tour for the first time

Imant Raminsh returns to his homeland of Latvia with the chorus on a tour of the Baltics and St. Petersburg


Anima receives the ASCAP Award from Chorus America for Adventurous Programming

Brandon Pemberton is named the first Assistant Music Director

Anima and Emily Ellsworth receive Tribute Awards from Chicago a cappella, Jonathan Miller, Artistic Director


Anima-GECC celebrates 50 years in the 2014-15 season and moves back to its original home at 501 Hill Avenue, Glen Ellyn

Past Tours

  • 1977 – New York City, NY
  • 1980 – London, England
  • 1982 – Germany
  • 1986 – Scandinavia
  • 1988 – Pacific Northwest
  • 1990 – New York City, NY
  • 1991 – Finland/Poland/ Czechoslovakia
  • 1993 – Norway/Denmark
  • 1994 – Florida
  • 1994 – London, Ontario, Canada
  • 1995 – New York City, NY
  • 1996 – Pacific Northwest (Washington and British Columbia)
  • 1997 – Des Moines, IA
  • 1998 – Italy
  • 2000 – Australia/New Zealand
  • 2002 – Brazil
  • 2003 – New York City, NY
  • 2003 – Minneapolis, MN
  • 2003 – Newfoundland, Canada
  • 2005 – St. Louis, MO
  • 2005 – Hong Kong/China
  • 2006 – Grand Rapids, MI
  • 2007 – New Orleans, LA
  • 2007 – South Africa
  • 2009 – England
  • 2009 – Denver, CO
  • 2010 – Green Bay, WI
  • 2009 – Denver, CO
  • 2010 – Spain/Morocco
  • 2011 – New York City, NY
  • 2012 – St. Louis, MO
  • 2012 – Baltics/Russia
  • 2013 – Cincinnati, OH
  • 2014 – British Columbia/Alaska
  • 2015 – New Orleans, LA
  • 2016 – Scotland/Ireland
  • 2017 – Washington, DC
  • 2018 – Greece