With their dynamic blend of talent, style and artistry, nearly 300 CPS students shone at this year’s All-City Performing Arts Show.
This troupe of performers represented 83 CPS schools, and included singers, dancers, instrumentalists and thespians from grades 3-12.
“The performance was beautiful and truly awesome,” said Nicole Losurdo of the CPS Arts Department. “It was a fantastic experience for our students to perform in such a professional setting.”
That setting was the Harris Theater at 205 E. Randolph, which played host to the 51st-annual All-City performance. But the journey to this stage began in the fall of 2013, when the CPS Arts Department revamped its previous model to provide greater access to arts opportunities throughout the District.
The new model saw 428 students from around the city rehearsing at four regional sites. The rehearsal sites were located in CPS schools, and were strategically placed throughout the city to increase equity in arts instruction. As a result, participation in these ensembles grew significantly during SY 13-14.
The student artists met on Saturdays throughout the fall, forming bands, choirs, theater troupes and dance ensembles who worked tirelessly to prepare for Regional Arts Day – a District-wide performance that helped determine who would go on to perform in the All-City show. These performers were selected in February and immediately began rehearsing for the May performance, meeting every Saturday at Jones College Prep High School.
“As an elementary band teacher, I was excited to work with advanced student musicians,” said Ted Ehnle, the CPS music teacher who conducted the All-City High School Concert Band. “I was impressed with how receptive the students were to feedback, and how quickly they made changes to improve their playing. I was also inspired by how respectful and attentive they were during rehearsals.”
According to Ehnle, the band’s shining moment came during their performance of “I Am” – a piece composed in memory of a high school student who died in a traffic accident.
“Through the music, the audience could imagine the foggy morning leading up to the accident, which was represented by a sounding of the gong,” he said. “The piece ended with the students singing in unison and fading into silence. The final moment was magical.”
The event was full of marquis moments, including performances by ALT-City, a series of ensembles in alternative and fringe arts disciplines such as Hip-Hop poetry, Latin Fusion Rock, and R&B vocals.
“ALT-City gives voice to students who desire to express themselves creatively in a non-traditional way,” said Robin Dasilva, who acts as the assistant director for these ensembles. “I was just a facilitator. The kids came in the first day with a world of ideas, and by the end, they were able to fashion a creative masterpiece.”
Also on hand at this year’s All-City performance were representatives from the Grammy Foundation, which honored ten CPS high schools as part of its Signature Schools Community Award Program. The Grammy Foundation, which has a long history of financially supporting music education, presented each of these schools with a $2,500 grant to help support their music programs.