By Rich Field, email@example.com
With a graduation and college acceptance rate averaging 95 percent, which is quite amazing at any high school, the Duke Ellington School of the Arts is proof of what it means to successfully educate young people for the 21st century—in and through the arts.
Ellington is the only DC public high school to offer a dual curriculum encompassing professional arts training and academic enrichment in preparation for college and careers in the arts. Students can major in dance, literary media and communications, museum studies, instrumental or vocal music, theatre, technical design and production, or visual arts.
The Ellington Fund, which is the charitable arm of the school, administers and supports programs and activities at Ellington that are not funded by DC Public Schools, including their benefit concerts, the Performance Series of Legends.
Last year I volunteered to produce a short video for the Fund’s 2014 Legends performance featuring Sting and Paul Simon performing with the extremely talented dancers, singers, and musicians of Ellington School. From videotaping rehearsals at the school, to the sound-check at Strathmore Hall with Sting, to the full-house concert, it was an incredibly gratifying experience for me and my all-volunteer crew to share just a small amount of the pride and joy that the Ellington students and teachers must have felt during the audience’s long standing ovation.
In the video, Sting sums it up when he says: “I’ve agreed to work with schools before and you always think ‘oh well they’re kids,’ but this was of a higher order—the singing and the playing and just the commitment. And it was absolutely inspiring for us. I’m blown away!”
This year, experience the exciting combination of Ellington School performers on stage with 10-time Grammy-award winner Bobby McFerrin at the 8th annual Performance Series of Legends benefit concert on Wednesday, May 20, at 7:30 pm at the Warner Theatre.
Multi-faceted and multi-talented Bobby McFerrin has blurred the distinction between pop music and fine art, exploring uncharted vocal territory, inspiring a whole new generation of a cappella singers and dazzling audiences. He singlehandedly redefined the role of the human voice with his hit “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”