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Yo-Yo Ma, Renee Fleming Perform at Lake View High School

By Patty Wetli | Monday, March 19, 2012

Yo-Yo Ma (decked out in a Lake View choir t-shirt) and Renee Fleming perform "America the Beautiful." Credit: Paul Crossey

When’s the last time you heard an auditorium full of high school students go nuts for a cellist? That was the scene at Lake View High School, 4015 N. Ashland Ave., Monday morning as Yo-Yo Ma, opera great Renee Fleming and Damian Woetzel, former principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, joined the Lake View community in a celebration of arts in education.

“We were in some of your classrooms…and it was inspiring,” said Woetzel, who serves on the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

Ma and Fleming appeared at Lake View courtesy of a collaboration between the Lyric Opera and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with whom Lake View enjoys “great relationships,” according to Cate Mascari, Lake View choir director. “They love the way our students work.”

During the half-hour program, Ma accompanied Lake View’s “Louder Than a Bomb” poetry team, and he and Fleming teamed on a composition by Rachmaninoff, mesmerizing the crowd of usually rambunctious teenagers. Under Mascari’s direction, choir students from Lake View, ChiArts and the Merit School of Music took center stage for a rousing performance of “Tshotsholoza,” a favorite song of Nelson Mandela’s.

The anthem demonstrated the uplifting and unifying power of singing with a communal voice, according to Woetzel, at the same time that the arts enable individuals to also find their own voice.

Lake View Principal Dr. Lilith Werner confessed to a case of the nerves that had her lying awake Sunday night, anxious over her introductory comments. She needn’t have worried. Following his turn with “Louder Than a Bomb,” Ma leaned back to Werner and said, “I love your school.”

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