A 1,000-voice performance by and for the people of Chicago.

crowd out logo

crowd out Chicago video courtesy of the Chicago Humanities Festival

Testimonial from crowd out Chicago participant:

I want to take a moment to congratulate you on having organized a tremendously large and fascinating event. And I wanted to thank you. I was participating in Crowd Out as a member of the Chicago Artists Chorale which was representing the 46th ward. Upon first hearing about the opportunity my interest was piqued, but I wasn’t exactly sure what it would be like. Despite having attended the rehearsals, nothing could have quite prepared me for what I can only describe as a combined sociological/anthropological/societal/emotional/physical overwhelm (of the most startling and satisfying kind). Standing in that crowd around “the bean,” in the middle of downtown, in this city in which I’ve lived for half my life, I’ve never felt quite so connected to those around me as when we whispered and shouted and sang the most personal and empowering and revealing of phrases. I felt exposed and seen and heard and, at the same time, anonymous, forgotten, and expendable. I also felt unbelievably connected to my context as a human, my context as a member of this city, of the community, of the neighborhoods, of the Midwest, of the U.S., etc. It was an intense experience on so many levels and one I will not soon forget and am so grateful to have had.

Thanks to you and everyone involved in coordinating this effort. Please know that your hard work has been noticed, has been appreciated, and is not forgotten. Thank you for your tremendous service to Illinois, to Chicago, to the humanities, and for enabling music and art and creativity and expression and community experiences and, ultimately, human connection. Thank you from me, a very moved and grateful member of the ‘crowd.’

Krista Damico

WHAT IS crowd out?

crowd out is a composition and performance for 1,000 voices by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang (co-founder of Bang on a Can, composer of The Little Match Girl Passion, Death Speaks).

Combining the human voice (spoken, sung, and shouted) with the dynamic movement of people in a public space, Lang explores what it means to be part of a crowd. In a crowd people can feel isolated, can rise in unison with others, and can be in conflict. A crowd has the potential to be something greater than the sum of its parts.

Co-produced by Illinois Humanities and the Chicago Humanities Festival, crowd out will make its dramatic U.S. premiere on October 1, 2017, at 3PM in Chicago’s most spectacular public space—Millennium Park. crowd out will represent the full diversity of Chicago, drawing 1,000 amateur and professional performers from across the city. The event will bring Chicago performers, cultural groups, civic organizations, and audiences together in a unique community-building experience.


To prepare for crowd out, Illinois Humanities and Chicago Humanities Festival will work with the Chicago Public Library; Chicago Park District; Chicago Cultural Alliance; Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC); and Northwest Arts Connection to organize a summer series of Community Gatherings in every neighborhood of Chicago. Hosted in public libraries, parks, schools, churches, and cultural spaces throughout the city, each event is an opportunity for residents of Chicago to join crowd out.

Each Community Gathering includes a rehearsal of the piece led by a neighborhood singing group and a facilitated conversation about the future of art in your neighborhood and the city. An Illinois Humanities-trained facilitator will lead this discussion, in partnership with a local cultural organization, to assess local arts and culture resources and to reimagine our individual roles in advocating for a brighter future for arts and culture in the life of the individual, the neighborhood, and the city. These neighborhood gatherings connect organizations, choirs, and residents in an active citywide community; this community will ultimately gather to perform the final performance of crowd out on October 1 at 3 PM.


The 50 neighborhood programs, while in immediate service of crowd out, also create a cultural infrastructure for future community-based programs, including small-group discussions and performances, and for citywide cultural initiatives, like the Terra Foundation’s 2018 Art Design Chicago. With these Gatherings, we aim to foster artistic and cultural resource-sharing and collaboration among neighborhoods and to activate citywide systems like Aldermanic Offices, Parks, Libraries, and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), highlighting them as integral components of this cultural infrastructure.

More information on crowd out can be found at crowdoutchicago.org.