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

crowd out logo

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.

The Community Gatherings are free and open to the public. A schedule of each Community Gathering can be found at www.crowdoutchicago.org/calendar-of-events.