VIDEO : YO-YO MA
Massenet “Meditation” from Thais
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YO-YO MA & HIS CELLO
Yo-Yo Ma’s multi-faceted career is testament to his continual search for new ways to communicate with audiences, and to his personal desire for artistic growth and renewal. Whether performing new or familiar works from the cello repertoire, creating educational programs that not only bring young audiences into contact with music but also allow them to participate in its creation, coming together with colleagues for chamber music, or exploring cultures and musical forms outside the Western classical tradition, Mr. Ma strives to find connections that stimulate the imagination.
Yo-Yo Ma maintains a balance between his engagements as soloist with orchestras throughout the world, his recital and chamber music activities, and his work with the Silk Road Project, for which he serves as Artistic Director. He draws inspiration from a wide circle of collaborators, creating programs with such artists as Sergio and Odair Assad, Emanuel Ax, Daniel Barenboim, Christoph Eschenbach, Kayhan Kalhor, Ton Koopman, Bobby McFerrin, Edgar Meyer, Mark Morris, Mark O’Connor, Kathryn Stott, Wu Man, Wu Tong, and David Zinman. Each of these collaborations is fueled by the artists’ interactions, often extending the boundaries of a particular genre. One of Mr. Ma’s goals is the exploration of music as a means of communication, and as a vehicle for the migration of ideas, across a range of cultures throughout the world. To that end, he has taken time to immerse himself in subjects as diverse as native Chinese music with its distinctive instruments and the music of the Kalahari bush people in Africa.
One of Mr. Ma’s goals is the exploration of music as a means of communication and as a vehicle for the migrations of ideas across a range of cultures throughout the world. Expanding upon this interest, in 1998, Mr. Ma established the Silk Road Project to promote the study of the cultural, artistic and intellectual traditions along the ancient trade route that stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. By examining the flow of ideas throughout this vast area, the Project seeks to illuminate the heritages of the Silk Road countries and identify the voices that represent these traditions today. The Project’s major activities have included the 2002 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which included more that 400 artists from 25 countries and drew more than 1.3 million visitors, and concerts at the 2005 World Expo in Aichi, Japan. In the 2006-2007 season, partnering with the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the City of Chicago, the Silk Road Project presented Silk Road Chicago, a yearlong, citywide celebration through performance, exhibitions and events that explore cross-cultural discovery and the artistic legacy of the Silk Road. Ongoing affiliations with the Rhode Island School of Design and Harvard University have made it possible to broaden and enhance the Project’s educational programs. In 2009-2010, at the invitation of the New York City Department of Education, the Silk Road Project is partnering with cultural and educational organizations to pilot Silk Road Connect, a multidisciplinary middle school engagement program designed to spark a lifelong passion for learning. In Silk Road Connect visual and aural elements are used alongside the experiences of making and collaborating to make direct connections to work in the classrooms, from subjects such as Social Studies and English Language Arts to science and the arts.
Through the Silk Road Project, as throughout his career, Yo-Yo Ma seeks to expand the cello repertoire, frequently performing lesser known music of the 20th century and commissions of new concertos and recital pieces. He has premiered works by a diverse group of composers, among them Stephen Albert, Elliott Carter, Chen Yi, Richard Danielpour, Gabreila Lena Frank, Osvaldo Golijov, John Harbison, Leon Kirchner, Peter Lieberson, Christopher Rouse, Bright Sheng, Tan Dun, John Williams, Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky, and Evan Ziporyn.
Mr. Ma is an exclusive Sony Classical artist, and his discography of over 75 albums (including more than 15 Grammy Award winners) reflects his wide-ranging interests. He has made several successful recordings that defy categorization, among them “Hush” with Bobby McFerrin, “Appalachia Waltz” and “Appalachian Journey” with Mark O’Connor and Edgar Meyer and two Grammy-winning tributes to the music of Brazil, “Obrigado Brazil” and “Obrigado Brazil – Live in Concert.” Mr. Ma’s most recent recordings include “Songs of Joy and Peace” and a forthcoming album of Mendelssohn trios with Emanuel Ax and Itzhak Perlman. Across this full range of releases Mr. Ma remains one of the best-selling recording artists in the classical field. All of his recent albums have quickly entered the Billboard chart of classical best sellers, remaining in the Top 15 for extended periods, often with as many as four titles simultaneously on the list. In fall 2009 Sony Classical released a box set of over 90 albums to commemorate Mr. Ma’s 30 years as a Sony recording artist.
Yo-Yo Ma was born in 1955 to Chinese parents living in Paris. He began to study the cello with his father at age four and soon came with his family to New York, where he spent most of his formative years. Later, his principal teacher was Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School. He sought out a traditional liberal arts education to expand upon his conservatory training, graduating from Harvard University in 1976. He has received numerous awards, including the Avery Fisher Prize (1978), the Glenn Gould Prize (1999), the National Medal of the Arts (2001), the Dan David Prize (2006), the Sonning Prize (2006) and the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award (2008). Appointed a CultureConnect Ambassador by the United States Department of State in 2002, Mr. Ma has met with, trained and mentored thousands of students worldwide in countries including Lithuania, Korea, Lebanon, Azerbaijan and China. He has performed with and conducted master classes for members of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra, and serves as a U.N. Messenger of Peace; in 2007. In January 2009, at President Obama’s invitation, Mr. Ma played in the quartet performance of John Williams’ Air and Simple Gifts at the 56th Inaugural Ceremony. In November 2009 Mr. Ma was appointed to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.
Mr. Ma and his wife have two children. He plays two instruments, a 1733 Montagnana cello from Venice and the 1712 Davidoff Stradivarius.
DAHA [Source: Boston Symphonic Orchestra]