Anika Zima, 11, and her brother, George, 10, love to sing—which led their mom, Sharon, to sign them up for Kinderchor, the German-American Children’s Chorus of Chicago.
But being members of the choir meant so much more than just singing, Sharon Zima says. The children have learned about the importance of making a commitment by resolving to show up at all of the weekly practices. And they gained confidence and learned about stage presence through the performances, she says.
Her children, though, say they have learned something else: They love to travel.
“The best thing is you get to go to a lot of cool places,” says George of the choir that has performed in Germany and at Disney World in Florida for the last few years. They also give a number of concerts around the Chicago area each year, including a free concert at the Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza, Washington and Dearborn streets, Chicago, on Dec. 2.
The children sing German folk songs, learning the English translations while being exposed to German culture. Kinderchor is made up of about 52 children ages 4-14 and is open to children of any ethnic heritage, says director Carol Himmel. There is no audition required.
The group practices Saturdays from September through May at Wilson Park Field House on Chicago’s Northwest side. Annual membership is $50. To raise money for travel, parents are expected to work at the food and beer tent at Chicago’s Germanfest in September, sell entertainment books in the fall and buy two tickets to concerts twice a year.
Even though she is only one-quarter German, Annette Chemello of Palatine says Kinderchor has become a family tradition. Her mother sang in the choir as a child, she sang in it as a young teen and now her five children, ages 6 to 15, are all members.
“My daughter asked to be in it when she was 4. She wanted to wear the pretty dress,” says Chemello.
For more information, to join, or to see a schedule of upcoming performances, visit www.gakinderchor.org or call (847) 604-4834.