Home | Contact

Interactive workshops offering mindfulness-based choral training and master classes.


Download Registration Form

The Rao Center Location

St. James Commons

St. James Commons embraces the Cathedral Church, the Church Center and the Plaza. All have become venues for the openness the Cathedral congregation seeks as it strives to be the Soul of the Neighborhood, the Mother Church for a Diocese, and the Seat of the Bishop.

St. James Cathedral Choir

St. James Choir
St. James Cathedral Choir conducted by Bruce J. Barber II

The St. James Cathedral Choir is a mixed voice, semi-professional choir, numbering 30 musicians. The Choir has a distinguished history of service to the Cathedral, the Diocese and the community at large.

Suggested Accommodations

The Warwick Allerton Hotel is located just around the corner from St. James Commons and offers discounted rates for those engaged in activities at The Commons. Reservations may be made by calling the hotel directly at 312-440-1500 or online at www.theallertonhotel.com with the code STJC.

Download Registration Form

Please mail Registration Form, along with your check made out to “The Rao Center,” to:
235 Main Street
Evanston, IL 60202

For additional information: mjmusic440@gmail.com or 847-869-3925.

The Rao Center for Choral and Contemplative Arts

Doreen Rao,
Conductor and Master Teacher
with Members of
St. James Cathedral Choir

St James Commons
St. James Cathedral, Chicago

What is The Rao Center?

Chicago weekend workshops offer mindfulness-based choral training and master classes with Doreen Rao and members of the St. James Cathedral Choir

Download the prospectus (PDF format)

Who is it for?

Singers, conductors and choral teachers – emerging and established professionals (university students and retired professionals) ALL are welcome!

How is it presented?

Interactive workshops on singing and voice pedagogy, conducting and choral pedagogy with Doreen and contemplative leaders, taught through the  practices of breathing meditation, yoga and tai chi movement forms adapted for singing and conducting.

Doreen Rao will lead a series of spiritually inspired meditation and movement-based choral workshops for singers, conductors and teachers.  In partnership with members of the St. James Cathedral Choir, Doreen will be joined by contemplative leaders from diverse spiritual traditions and musical practices. Mindfulness meditation and contemplative instruction will form the basis for this boundary-crossing, spiritually informed series of Chicago weekend workshops.

As musicians and teachers, we know that singing and conducting at our personal best depends on the cultivation of awareness, the skills of deep listening, and the development of a socially engaged musicianship – contemplative practices based on the invisible skills of cooperation, receptivity and respect. 

St. James Commons

The annual RCCCA Course includes three scheduled Weekend Workshops at St. James Commons, downtown Chicago. Participants may register for the full course of three workshops or for one Weekend Workshop only. Information on optional graduate university credit is available on request. 

Conductor-participants are invited to rehearse and conduct the St. James Cathedral Choir which will be joined by singer participants. Scheduled for the Saturday afternoons of each weekend workshop and open to the public, the master class repertoire is assigned in advance and videotaped upon request.

Chicago Weekend Workshops

Fridays, 7:00 p.m.–9:30 p.m.
Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Optional — Sundays, 11:00 AM Choral Service at St. James Cathedral

September 18–19, 2015

Other dates to be announced soon.

Download Registration Form

Doreen Rao

Doreen Rao

Celebrated internationally for her moving concerts and inspirational teaching, Doreen Rao’s pioneering career changed the landscape of choral music in America. Linking the goals of music performance and teaching with the values of diversity, inclusion and social responsibility, Rao's seminal work teaching children to sing inspired a generation of conductors and teachers to lead young choirs in schools and communities around the world. In a national tribute presented by the American Choral Director’s Association, the eminent conductor Robert Shaw wrote: "The world of choral music owes her special thanks. She is preparing our future."

Doreen is a member of the Zen Peacemakers and a long time student of the American Zen Buddhist teacher, Joan Halifax roshi.  She is the author of Circle of Sound – a Contemplative Approach to Voice Education which serves as the philosophical and practical foundation for her mindfulness-based approach to conducting and teaching.

Selected Quotes from The Rao Center Workshop Participants

Thank you so much for such a meaningful experience this past weekend. You are truly a Master Teacher. You embody peace.

I loved our small group and all of the weekend components: meditation, movement, voice production, score preparation, and choral readings. And what a thrill to conduct the choir! You guided me so perceptively on how to get out of the way.

This was a transformative weekend for me. Music is in a new realm. You inspired me, and your approach will continue to inform my music-making.

—Thomas Alm, Organist/Choirmaster

Learning the best practices for score preparation and analysis, and the circle of sound voice production, are incredibly valuable for both conductors and singers.

Integrating meditation with the circle of sound technique was amazingly effective. It was wonderful to see the resulting sound quality when the singing circle was employed, allowing singers to maintain eye contact and fully listen to one another.

The concept of artist as peacemaker was very effective to set the overall framework for the workshop.

—Karen Commons, singer (Chicago Master Singers)