Yuan-Qing Yu joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1995 and was appointed as assistant concertmaster the following year. Her Citizen Musician project has provided musical experiences for patients, families and staff at Lurie Children’s Hospital for the last two seasons.

Lurie Children’s Hospital recently received a visit from Civitas Ensemble, which brought friend and fellow classical musician Yo-Yo Ma along for its performance.

The ensemble is no stranger at Lurie; in the short time that the hospital has been open, the group has performed in the Crown Sky Garden and Family Life Center, as well as other spaces that allow it to interact directly with children and their families. Before the hospital’s move from Lincoln Park to Streeterville, the ensemble was a familiar group at the old Children’s Memorial Hospital, where it performed for a similar concert series, focusing on how music could have an immediately positive impact on the lives of children there.

“My son was a patient here for three years,” Yu after a recent performance at Lurie. “He went through treatment and I’m forever grateful to the hospital. Music always brings people together so the best way for me to contribute, to give something back to the hospital, is through what I know best — music.”

Yo-Yo Ma joined Civitas to contribute to the performance and to celebrate its work. Ma has been speaking extensively in recent years about the value of music. At his recent Hank’s Lecture, Ma performed with musicians from  Arthur Bloom’s Musicorps program, which has been held up as a model of how music can create a renewed sense of purpose for lives in recovery. The work of the Civitas Ensemble is based on the belief that listening, too, can be just as hopeful and joyful an experience and create as much sympathy between performer and listener as it does among fellow performers.

For more information about the group, visit civitasensemble.org.

ABOVE: Yuan-Qing Yu (second from left), Yo-Yo Ma (far right) and members of Civitas Ensemble. | Todd Rosenberg Photography