About Sing to Live®
The Sing to Live® Community Chorus was created by Chicagoan Melinda Pollack-Harris in 2005 to bring the joy of singing and fellowship to those whose lives have been touched by breast cancer.
It began with a quest. Following her treatment for the illness, Pollack-Harris sought a support group that not only shared her journey, but also could bring her the sense of camaraderie, exuberance, and self-confidence she had found as a singer in several choruses. Unable to find a musical outlet, she started her own.
She incorporated Sing to Live® as a nonprofit and brought on board Dr. Wilbert Watkins, a renowned musical director and conductor whose twin sister is a breast cancer survivor. Together, they embarked on a mission to find singers -- both men and women -- who were breast cancer survivors or had relatives or friends with the disease.
Now in its seventh season, the Sing to Live® Community Chorus has grown to 90 members who year-round enjoy friendship, harmony, and support in weekly rehearsals (the chorus takes the summer off) and perform concerts three times a year in Chicago's metro-area. Pollack-Harris' instinct has proved true: The shared and unique experience of breast cancer, combined with the therapeutic power of music, has created for singers a strong sense of family and renewed spirit, which is apparent and appreciated by enthusiastic audiences.
To further celebrate it's message of support, fellowship, and pride, Sing to Live® offers breast cancer survivors complimentary concert tickets and CDs of past performances. And, to fully realize Pollack-Harris' dream, the chorus continues to grow and welcome singers, both men and women, who are in tune with its inspirational mission.
About our Founder and President
In August 2004, Melinda Pollack-Harris, the founder and President of Sing to Live® – Live to Sing, NFP, was diagnosed with breast cancer. With an excellent prognosis and all major treatments behind her, she decided to make a positive situation out of a negative one. Ms. Pollack-Harris has sung in community choruses for many years and found great joy from these and other musical experiences. She believes that music can provide a source of comfort and healing for people touched by adversity. With this, the idea for a community chorus created especially for a group of very special people—those touched by breast cancer—was born.
About our Artistic Director and Conductor
Wilbert O. Watkins, Ph.D. brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Sing to Live® Community Chorus. Dr. Watkins was past director of Unison with the Windy City Performing Arts in Chicago. He was part of the teaching faculties of Northern Illinois University and DePaul University and previously held the position of Director of Choral Activities and Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa. He has taught as both a choral music educator and an applied voice teacher in Texas, Florida, Iowa, and Illinois. Dr. Watkins currently teaches voice privately and serves as Chancel Choir Director at Pilgrim Congregational Church in Oak Park and serves as Artistic Director for the Lutheran Choir of Chicago. Dr. Watkins studied with Rodney Eichenberger and André Thomas at Florida State University, where he earned a Ph.D. in music education and conducting. He has served as a clinician, adjudicator, and guest conductor in the South and Midwest, Puerto Rico, and in the Orient. Watkins has also sung with the Fort Worth Renaissance Consort, Schola Cantorum of Texas, and the Ft. Worth and Dallas Opera choruses. His other accolades include serving as chorus master for Giovanni Bertolani's Matilde, performing in master class with Paul Plishka, performing under the baton of Fiora Contino and the late Robert Shaw, with whom he also served as diction coach for his last performance of Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem. He has guest lectured in music literacy, vocal diction, and music education.
About our Accompanist
Joan Hutchinson earned a Bachelor of Music from Boston University and a Master of Music from American Conservatory of Music. She also studied organ and piano for one year at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland. She served churches in Boston, Southeastern Ohio, and the Joliet area before coming to Pilgrim Congregational Church UCC, Oak Park, IL in 1983. At Pilgrim, Joan is Minister of Music. She is involved in worship planning and administering choral and instrumental music ministries. In addition to playing the organ and piano for worship, Joan accompanies the Chancel Choir, sings in the Gospel Choir, and directs the Primary and Treble Choirs. She has taught piano privately since 1976.