History

Encore Music Academy, originally called Northwest Community Music Academy, opened its doors with its flagship program, the Northwest Community Youth Choir (NCYC). This 106 member choir, for ages 7–18, rehearsed in the aesthetically and acoustically beautiful sanctuary at First Congregational Church of Crystal Lake, a donated rehearsal location. NCYC performed their first concerts in February 2006, singing to three sold out audiences.

School districts in the community continued to cut music programs, sometimes entirely. More and more elementary and middle schools in the area stopped offering choir and band as part of the regular curriculum during the school hours. In response to this community need, EMA launched additional programs like Summer Musical, Summer Camp Encore, Private Instruction (instrumental and vocal), and Early Childhood classes. EMA rented space for the classes and rehearsals from First Congregational Church. Encore also acquired donated office space to accommodate increasing customer service needs and additional staff.

In 2015, Encore moved its offices and private lessons to 800 McHenry Avenue in Crystal Lake, Illinois. After just a year in the new location, Encore’s private lessons and group classes had increased in enrollment by 50%. In 2019, Encore doubled our office and studio space to welcome two longstanding community programs into the EMA family: McHenry County Youth Orchestra (MCYO) and Voices In Harmony (VIH). In 2021, MCYO officially became the EMA Youth Orchestra signaling a new chapter in its history. The EMA Youth Orchestra is the only community youth orchestra in our county and has three orchestras for grades 4-12. Voices In Harmony is one of McHenry County’s premier adult community choirs for ages 18+.

Encore continues to offer a comprehensive children’s choir program for grades 1-12. The EMA Youth Orchestra serves students from 23 communities and over 50 schools. Voices in Harmony serves 50 adults spanning the ages of 16-80 years old from across greater McHenry, Lake, Cook and Kane Counties. Our summer camps serve over 300 students in musical theater, chamber music and chorus, while professional, experienced faculty offer private lessons to over 200 students each week. Music Together®, our early childhood music program serves our young families and Joyful Noise serves young adults of all abilities. Encore is truly living into our belief that “Music is for Life.”

Voices In Harmony

In 1987, Crystal Lake brought together several annual events in June and July to create a 10-day celebration called the Fourth Of July Gala. Community participation was a very important part of this event. A chorus was recruited from area church choirs and residents. The Crystal Lake Community Choir (CLCC) held its premier with an outdoor concert at Main Beach Park on July 3. Many members wanted to continue singing together, and the choir was officially incorporated.

The choir grew to give four concerts each year. The fall concert and the Sing-Along Messiah (with orchestra) in December begin the concert season. The spring concert often features a major choral work with orchestra. The choir continues to honor its origins with a concert during the Fourth of July celebration at Main Beach.

The Raue Center For The Arts opened in September, 2001. The CLCC was the “anchor choir” for the theater’s premier event, the Festival of The Voice. The Raue Center became the choir’s concert home; it has given over 58 performances in the theater.

For the choir’s 20th year in 2007, and acknowledging its growing reach in our area, CLCC adopted the name Voices In Harmony (VIH) and our beautiful logo.

Viva Voce is a select ensemble from VIH, and gives performances throughout the year for many community events. We are proud to serve the community in this way.

Since 2019, VIH is proud to be a part of Encore Music Academy.

EMA Youth Orchestra

McHenry County Youth Orchestra (MCYO) was founded in 1980 by Dr. Marie Ann Vos. At that time, the Crystal Lake schools made the difficult decision to cut the orchestra programs. Dr. Vos saw a need and rehearsals began in the Vos’ basement. The orchestra soon outgrew these humble beginnings and began rehearsing at First Congregational Church.

After adding private instruction, a children’s choir program and early childhood music, they moved to Downtown Crystal Lake. They expanded their name to McHenry County Community Arts Center and eventually to McHenry County Music Center (MCMC.) MCMC moved to Lakeside Legacy Arts Park when Dr. Vos retired in 2007. In 2019, MCYO became a program of Encore Music Academy. In 2021, MCYO was officially renamed EMA Youth Orchestra.

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