The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Yo-Yo Ma & Renée Fleming's Surprise Thompson Center Show

By Alexander Hough in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 20, 2012 6:20PM

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, soprano Renée Fleming, musicians from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and 100 chorus members from three area high schools gave an unannounced performance in the Thompson Center food court during lunch hour yesterday.

The attendees, who were to varying degrees aware of the star power at work, were treated to a South African folk song performed by students from Lake View High School, Chicago High School for the Arts, and Merit School of Music; the first ever collaboration of Ma and Fleming, the creative consultants for the CSO and Lyric Opera, respectively; and a mass performance of “America the Beautiful,” including some of the verses no one actually knows. Gov. Pat Quinn was also on hand to give stilted speeches about the importance of the arts, as well as to receive hugs from an exuberant Ma.

The event, a rare collaboration between our city’s two largest classical music organizations, was held to promote each group’s community arts programs, the CSO’s Citizen Musician and the Lyric’s Renée Fleming Initiative.