Our history

About Working In Concert

A Timeline that brings us to Now

1995: Claudia Hommel with music director/pianist Bob Moreen offer, on tour and in the Chicago area, the first “Cabaret in the Classroom” performances of Souvenirs of Paris, 1950; master classes for high school musicians; and That’s What Makes Paris Paree for elementary schools .

1997: Claudia Hommel initiates a series of discussions among cabaret performers, asking “Can we create a cabaret scene in Chicago?” The membership-based Chicago Cabaret Professionals is organized in 1998 as a nonprofit organization to advocate the art of cabaret.

1999-2000: The first SongShop sessions are held at Sherwood Conservatory.

2003: SongShop is offered as an ongoing workshop by the Community Music Division of DePaul University School of Music.

2004: The first SongShop Live performance is brought to Davenport’s Cabaret Room. By 2022, more than 55 concerts are produced with SongShop participants.

2006: Oak Park-based Bellissima Opera is formed by Christine Steyer, Paul Geiger and others to preserve and promote the tradition of the classically trained vocal artist and to expand public appreciation of both opera and classical music,

2008: Bellissima launches Bellissima Opera Outreach, its educational component bringing music to more than 23,000 students, often at no cost to schools.

2010: Bellissima Opera forms a nonprofit organization to carry out its work.

2014: Christine Steyer and Claudia Hommel meet at the Naked Voice Institute led by Stephen Smith at Northwestern University.

2014: Bellissima Opera Outreach holds the first workshops that will develop the underlying themes, characters and lyrics for the opera Future Perfect, one of the first stories in Bellissima’s Tales of Transcendence .

Early 2017: Claudia, Elizabeth Doyle and Lynne Jordan are joined by Roxane Assaf in Chicago and Mylène Launay and Jean-Claude Orfali in Paris to launch the first international exchange of Chicago Paris Cabaret Connexion, held in Paris in September.

2018: Chicago Paris Cabaret Connexion comes to Chicago for an eight-day international exchange October-November.

Early 2019: Bellissima Opera joins the Cabaret Connexion, SongShop and classroom programs to form Working In Concert.

Early 2019: Working In Concert forms a coordinating body with Chicago Cabaret Professionals, Acts Of Kindness Cabaret, and The Cabaret Project to plan the first Chicago Cabaret Week. Choose Chicago, the city’s tourism bureau, provides marketing support. Scheduled for March 2020, the festival is postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic until May 2022.

September 2019: The Cabaret Connexion’s Tour de France takes a delegation of 25 artists to Sète, Montpellier and Paris, France for 11 days of workshops and performances with French and British cohorts.

August–October 2020: In spite of pandemic restrictions, WIC hosts three garden concerts for SongShop Live.

December 2020: Suggested by African-American performers who have participated in SongShop and Cabaret Connexion, we launch a new initiative called Black Voices in Cabaret.

February and March 2021: Under pandemic conditions, we hold our first virtual concerts and events—SongShop Live optimistically sings of “A Brand New Day” and Black Voices in Cabaret presents an online forum and a 3-part concert “Healing through Song.”

April 2021: Bellissima Opera premieres the virtual opera On Call: COVID-19, the first digital addition to our Tales of Transcendence. The opera department of Western Michigan University quickly follows with the first collegiate premiere, for which National Opera Association awards First Place for virtual opera production.

September-October, 2021: We co-produce with Chicago Cabaret Professionals and The Cabaret Project two acclaimed concerts of 100 Years of Chicago Cabaret, held in Bronzeville, home of the “Stroll” a century ago.

March 2022: WIC holds the first of our annual International Women’s Day concert to celebrate women composers, lyricists, and performers.

May 2022: Chicago Cabaret Week presents 14 concerts at 14 different venues throughout Chicago and suburbs.

May 2022: The fourth Cabaret Connexion brings an international roster of performers to Chicago for master classes, roundtables, and performances.

June 2022: The Cliff Dwellers Club invites Black Voices in Cabaret to present Celebrating Sisterhood.

August-September 2023: The fifth conference of the Chicago Paris Cabaret Connexion in Sète, France