CHICAGO (CBS) — Powerful messages about transgenderism, suicide and the nation’s political climate were prevalent as dozens of students from five Chicago Public Schools presented themes of courage through music, visual arts and the spoken word.

“It’s been remarkable to see how they have stepped forward and really shared their life experiences through this project,” said Jonathan McCormick, Director of Education the Negaunee Music Institute at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

The work by the students was created in collaboration with their teachers, CSO teaching artists and fellows from the Civic Chicago Orchestra.

“Throughout the season, we’ve been celebrating Sounds of Courage. This has made its way into concerts at Symphony Center, but also into what we do with schools. We are seeing today students stand up and express how they act courageously every day and doing so through the lens of their art.”

Students from Agassiz, Clinton, Disney, Edwards and Swift Elementary Schools each presented their own end-of-the year music project and shared the stage with Fellows from the Civic Orchestra. The event also included a performance of an excerpt from Richard Strauss’ “Don Quixote.”

Students from five CPS perform with members of the Chicago Civic Orchestra. (WBBM’s Lisa Fielding)

Famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma was also on hand to watch the performance.

“Yo-Yo brings such generosity of spirit and kindness to everything he does, so whether the students know he’s the most celebrated cellist of all time, you can relate to him,” McCormick said.

Ma is the Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Tuesday’s performance was a culmination and celebration marking the end of the second year of a music education partnership between the Negaunee Music Institute at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the five schools involved in the program.