Black Chorus at ISYM

June 20 – 25, 2022

Designed for all senior high vocalists, this program focuses on strengthening musicianship and acquiring individual artistry by exploring the unique treatment of the elements of vocal music by Black Americans in a choral setting. Students are exposed to a wide range of repertoire, including spirituals, hymns, anthems, gospel, jazz, pop, hip-hop, soul and R&B, and develop skills for the practice and performance of the vocal music of Black Americans. Classes include full ensemble and sectional rehearsals, masterclasses, group voice lessons, conducting/directing, and musicianship.

Format: In-Person on the Urbana-Champaign campus.


  • For students completing grades 8 – 12.

Typical Daily Schedule

8:00 – 8:40 am: Sectionals
8:45 – 10:00 am: Full Rehearsal
10:45 – 11:45 am: Choral Electives
12:00 – 1:00 pm: Lunch
1:15 – 2:00 pm: Ensemble Rehearsal
2:00 – 3:30 pm: Full Rehearsal
3:45 – 4:45 pm: Electives
5:15 pm: Dinner and Evening Activities
10:30 pm: Lights out

Application Materials

  • Submit the ISYM Application Form
  • There is no audition requirement for acceptance to this program.
  • Acceptance notifications are sent on a rolling basis.

Accepted Students

  • Additional information will be available after April 1, 2022, including audition information for placement within the program.


  • Resident – $800 (tuition, room and board)
  • Commuter – $550 (tuition and lunch only)


Dr. Ollie Watts Davis, University of Illinois

Dr. Ollie Watts Davis is the Suzanne and William Allen Distinguished Professor in Music; Professor of Voice; Provost’s Fellow; and Artistic Director and Conductor of the award-winning Black Chorus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she has received numerous awards, including the 2018 Outstanding Faculty Leadership Award and was named a University Scholar in 2008.

Since making her New York debut at Carnegie Hall, Dr. Davis has performed with the nation’s leading orchestras; and internationally, in North, South and Central America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. She has released 4 CD recordings, and is featured on the PBS documentary: The Caged Bird: The Life and Music of Florence B. Price, and most recently, on the PBS special American Portrait Central Illinois: Lift Every Voice. As author, composer, conductor, performer, pedagogue, and professor, Dr. Davis, through her compelling TALKS, transfers a little knowledge systematically.

A West Virginian native, Dr. Davis holds the Bachelor of Science (magna cum laude) from West Virginia Institute of Technology, where she was named Alumna of the Year; the Master of Arts from West Virginia University, and the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts (Phi Beta Kappa) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She and her husband, Rev. Dr. Harold Davis have five adult children, and three wonderful grandchildren.

Listen to Dr. Ollie Watts Davis perform with the University of Illinois Black Chorus

Read more about Professor Davis.