Music: Tower of Sound

In her brown slacks and worn sneakers she looks like a gym instructor. The 170 people gathered before her rise and begin stretching. Then they start rubbing and kneading one another's necks and shoulders. As it turns out, the main thing on their minds is not physical fitness but singing. The woman signals with her right hand. Out comes a huge roar: "Ming ... mo!" A pause, another signal. "Ming mong!" And so it goes, now higher in pitch, now lower: "Ming mang," "May me may," "Me mo me."

That was Choral Director Margaret Hillis, 54, warming up the Chicago Symphony Chorus...

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