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
  • Soli deo Gloria
  • Grant Park Music Festival
  • Music of the Baroque
  • Joffrey Ballet
  • New Philharmonic
  • eighth blackbird
  • Barenaked Ladies
  • Lakeside Singers
  • Elgin Symphony

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
  • Director, Global Force Posture at Office of the Secretary of Defense
  • Scheduling and Facilities Coordinator for the Music Conservatory CCPA, Roosevelt University
  • Evanston Children's Choir director of the Junior and Intermezzo ensembles
  • Singing with the Chicago Chamber Choir
  • Operations Associate, Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic
  • Account Manager at Meltwater Media
  • Professional opera singer, Boston, MA
  • Professional singer working with the Philip Glass Ensemble
  • 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

“Anima is truly special. The legacy of well-nurtured musical excellence enhances not only young musicians, but also the entire musical community. We are so proud of the singers and leaders of this wonderful organization and happy to celebrate this milestone with you.”
– Robert Bowker,
Composer, Conductor and Artistic Director of The Lakeside Singers

“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 founded by Barbara Born Director 1964-1972


First performance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Featuring Berlioz "Damnation of Faust" 42 performances with the CSO to date


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


Doreen Rao becomes Music Director Margaret Hillis extends "Honorary Membership" to the Chicago Symphony Chorus Debuts at Ravinia Brittens' "War Requiem" with the CSO Over 20 Ravinia performances to date.

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