Elton John Goes Back To School

Grammy and Academy Award-winning artist Elton John performed at Bovard Auditorium on Monday, September 16, in an event titled “Elton John Goes Back to School.” John was joined on stage by members of the USC Thornton Symphony and USC Thornton Chamber Singers, and students from Thornton’s brass program.

On Sunday, September 22nd, the USC Thornton Chamber Singers and Thornton brass students reprised their roles onstage with Sir Elton John — this time on national television during the 65th annual Emmy Awards.

On Sunday night, 6,000 celebrities and television industry leaders sat in the audience at the Nokia Theatre at LA Live. Host Neil Patrick Harris estimated that the broadcast was seen by 30 million viewers around the world.

John’s appearance, one hour into the telecast, was billed as a tribute to the legendary entertainer Liberace. Behind the Candelabra, a biopic about the late pianist, was nominated for 15 Emmys and won several of the awards. John was introduced by Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, the stars of the HBO film. After the song, Douglas recognized “the amazing young musicians from the USC Thornton School of Music.”

Jenny Wong, a USC Thornton Chamber Singers soprano, said it was “heartwarming” to be publicly thanked by Douglas.

“At an event as high profile and involving so many celebrities as the Emmy Awards, it is possible to feel that you don’t matter,” she said. “Yet the celebrities and crew always made us feel that we were important and treated us as professionals.

“Elton John’s four professional backup singers were especially sweet to us and always made encouraging small talk,” she added. “Being amid so many talents in the industry was a complete privilege, and we could not be more thankful as some of the biggest names on television joked with us backstage, took photos of us and gave us thumbs up.”

Rolling Stone’s coverage

USC News review

Photos from event