The Elgin Master Chorale will celebrate its 75th anniversary season with the North American premiere of a piece commissioned for the occasion.

“The World Imagined,” the result of a three-year collaboration between renowned English choral composer Gabriel Jackson and Elgin Master Chorale maestro Andrew Lewis, will highlight a concert on May 15 at the Blizzard Theater at Elgin Community College. Jackson will be flying in to see the play make its American debut.

“We’re really thrilled to have her here, and we’re really proud to have this piece marking our 75th anniversary,” said Alison Bleick, choir board chair and choir member.

“The World Imagined” is a 45-minute oratorio described as a work that “examines creation and humanity’s small but transformative place in our infinite universe.”

The program also includes “Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast” by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and an original poem presented by Elgin Poet Laureate Gareth Mann.

The choir will be joined by Lyric Opera tenor soloist Hoss Brock and the Elgin Symphony Orchestra.

Tickets for the 3:30 p.m. show can be purchased at the Blizzard Theater box office or by phone at (847) 622-0300.


The choir, the oldest in the Fox Valley, was founded in 1947 as a union of several church choirs and has been aptly nicknamed the Elgin Choral Union. It changed its name in 2014 to The Elgin Master Chorale.

The group typically consists of around 85 to 90 singers, Bleick said, although numbers have dropped slightly since the pandemic. The non-profit organization is based at Elgin Community College and is a class that can be taken for credit, although most members do not.

The choir is led by Lewis, who has been musical director for almost 20 years and has professional section leaders.

“The rest of us are amateur singers, and I mean amateur in the best sense of the word,” said Bleick, who has been singing for about 18 years. “We are volunteers and we are very passionate about what we do.”

Bleick said the choir is of all ages and includes people fresh out of college and up to people in their 70s and 80s.

“A lot of people think it’s kind of an extended family,” she said.