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A Few Thoughts on Yo-Yo Ma

Last night I had the joyous pleasure of seeing Yo-Yo Ma with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.  Ma, quite simply, is the Man.

yo yo ma bell

I could probably write a post a week about how much I respect, admire, and, ok, pretty much worship, Mr. Ma and it wouldn’t really be enough.  But to spare you (and him!) that degree of fan-girl gushing, I will keep it simple and fairly brief.

Yo-Yo Ma has been a hero of mine since I started playing cello at age 12.  I actually don’t remember a time in my life where I didn’t know who he was, though certainly I wasn’t born with this knowledge.  Even I wasn’t that precocious.  😉

Yo_yo_ma w elmo

Yo-Yo Ma can literally play with anyone (and whatever Elmo is)

What makes Yo-Yo Ma much more important than your garden variety award-winning cellist is his willingness and ability to not stick to the Classical Script.  Bobby McFerrin colab?  Check.  Multiple Explorations of Eastern Music?  Check.  Amazing Variety of World Premiers?  Check.  Endless Number of Soundtracks?  Check.  Argentine Tango and Brazilian Music?  Check.  Bluegrass?  Why the hell not.  And Check.  Twice.

It is this sense of musical adventure and his message of music as The Great Unifier of Humanity that makes Yo-Yo Ma one of the most important artists living and, frankly, in history.  To look across the divide and see commonalities while embracing the differences is one of the greatest achievements in life.  Yo-Yo preaches this gospel in his music, in his generosity, and in his ongoing outreach.

Oh, and yeah, dude is of course an INCREDIBLE musician.  Check out (only!) a portion of his catalog on Spotify, buy his records, or better yet, see him in concert.  You will not be disappointed.

Last night’s performance was passionate, nuanced, and en pointe, reminding me again why Yo-Yo is worthy of such life-long devotion.  His playing always appears effortless and he is unfailingly gracious to the orchestra and the audience.  He also made me want to call in sick today to play my cello instead.  For the record I didn’t.  But it was closer than my employer would like to know.  🙂

So, to end my *brief* love letter to the one and only Yo-Yo Ma:  Thank you, sir, for a lifetime of music and inspiration.  I hope to see you again soon!

We can’t get away without a few videos.  These are the works he performed for us:

Dvorak’s Cello Concerto

For the encore:  John Williams’ Elegy for Cello & Orchestra

And Bonus Bach (not performed last night but Bach, baby! There is no such thing as too much Bach.  Or too much Yo-Yo Ma performing Bach.)

 Last night was my first time seeing Music Director Brett Mitchell conduct the CSO.  He is energetic, charming, AND a Star Wars fan.  I will definitely be making it a point to see him conduct again!

PPS:  To the less-than-awesome family sitting next to me:  a Yo-Yo Ma concert is not a football game.  We do not crinkle wrappers, crunch on candy, or slurp from beverages while a living legend performs.  Clapping between movements is fine; you are enjoying the music and that is great news.  Making noise DURING the performance however is just plain rude.

PPPS:  Ok, one more Bach for the road…