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YoYo Ma

YOYO MA SYMBOLIZES the fast-growing influence of Asian/Asian Pacific American artists within the American scene while incorporating various eclectic musical genres. His long established artistry and respect have provided various opportunities to play with many renowned artists. These artists include renowned baroque conductor/composer Ton Koopman, Itzhak Perlman (at the 2001 Academy Awards broadcast), Tan Dun, Edgar Meyer, Mark O'Connor, James Taylor, Alison Krauss, Joshua Bell, Bela Fleck, Sam Bush, Mike Marshall, Emanuel Ax, Isaac Stem, Jaime Laredo and Bobby McFerrin  

THE MANY-FACTED CAREER of cellist YoYo Ma is a testament to his search for new ways to communicate with audiences and to his own desire for artistic growth and renewal. Whether performing a new concerto, revisiting a familiar work from the cello repertoire, reaching out to young audiences and student musicians, or exploring cultures and musical forms outside the Western classical tradition, Ma strives to find connections that stimulate the imagination. Sony Classical has been his partner throughout his career, documenting his interpretations of the mainstream repertoire and collaborating in his search for new ways of making music. YoYo Ma

IN NOVEMBER 1997, Ma was named Artist of the Year in the Gramophone Awards. The magazine noted, "In a year of quite extraordinary diversity, the cellist YoYo Ma has shown that the boundaries of 'classical' music need not be restraining as he has vaulted spectacularly from classical cello concertos, to blue-grass music via a disc of tangos to a host of specially composed works featuring his remarkable talent. With Ma, there is only one category of music - the kind he wants to make."

IN HIS PASSION to incorporate different artistic mediums to explore other means of communication, he has developed works from people in other disciplines. This was seen in six multimedia films of Bach's Six Cello Suites that explored the relationship between Bach's music and other artistic disciplines. These films featured Mark Morris' choreography, the work of the renowned Kabuki artist Tamasaburo Bando, the Italian architect Piranesi's designs, Boston-based garden designer Julie Moir Messervy, the Olympic ice-dancing champions Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean, and Canadian film director Atom Egoyan. The films have been released on home video by Sony Classical and have won numerous honors - including two 1998 Emmy Awards and 16 Canadian Gemini nominations. YoYo Ma

YOYO MA DRAWS INSPIRATION from a wide circle of collaborators, having created programs with such artists as Emanuel Ax, Daniel Barenboim, Pamela Frank, Jeffrey Kahane, Young Uck Kim, Jaime Laredo, Bobby McFerrin, Edgar Meyer, Mark O'Connor, Peter Serkin, Isaac Stern, Richard Stoltzman and Kathryn Stott. Each of these collaborations is fueled by the interaction between or among the artists, and often that process produces music that extends beyond the boundaries of a particular genre, classical or otherwise. To that end, he has taken time to immerse himself in projects as diverse as native Chinese music (and distinctive instruments) and the music of the Kalahari bush people in Africa.

AS A RESULT, YoYo Ma has created "The Silk Road Project," a new initiative aimed at exploring the cross-cultural influences among and between the lands comprising the legendary Silk Road and the West. Beginning in 2001, an ambitious program of concerts, festivals and educational outreach activities in North America, Europe and Asia was initiated with a distinguished team of scholars, musicians and artists from around the world. The Silk Road Project is designed to illuminate the historical contributions of the Silk Road; support innovative collaborations among artists from the East and West; and resituate classical music within a broader global context.

AN EXCLUSIVE Sony Classical recording artist, YoYo Ma is a ten-time Grammy award winner. Within his fifty (c.d.), his recent releases include the following:

  • KING GESAR" - a Peter Lieberson's chamber work
  • PREMIERS is made of recent concertos by Kirchner, Rouse and Danielpour with David Zinman and the Philadelphia Orchestra and
  • FROM ORDINARY PEOPLE - a new work with music from Andre Previn, set to words by Toni Morrison, with soprano Sylvia McNair.

OTHER RENOWN RECORDED WORK includes the following

  • CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON - Grammy-nominated Tan Dun's soundtrack (featuring the playing of YoYo Ma)
  • APPALACIAN JOURNEY won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Crossover Album (in conjunction with a Ken Burns documentary)
  • APPALACHIA WALTZ, Heads Up: Heartland: An Appalachian Anthology
  • HUSH w/Bobby McFerrin (certified Gold)
  • SOUL OF THE TANGO based on the works of Astor Piazolla (awarded the 1999 Grammy for Best Classical Crossover Album) and
  • IMMORTAL BELOVED (certified Gold), PBS's "Live from Lincoln Center."
  • NOTE: Click on each "Titles" for more information on each selection

HIS SUPPORT of contemporary music is evident when he has premiered works by a diverse group of composers, including Stephen Albert, Chen Qigang, John Corigliano, Richard Danielpour, John Harbison, Leon Kirchner, Peter Lieberson, Christopher Rouse, Bright Sheng, Tan Dun and John Williams. Highly acclaimed for his ensemble playing, Mr. Ma regularly performs chamber music with Emanuel Ax, Isaac Stem and Jaime Laredo of Beethoven, Brahms, Dvorak, Fauré, Mozart and Schumann.


The Silk Road Project, an initiative aimed at exploring cross-cultural influences among and between the lands comprising the legendary Silk Road and the West.

They've launched an ambitious program of concerts, festivals and educational outreach activities in North America, Europe and Asia.

Yo-Yo Ma, in coordination with a distinguished team of scholars, musicians and artists from around the world, the Silk Road Project is designed to illuminate the historical contributions of the Silk Road, support innovative collaborations among artists from the East and West, and resituate classical music within a broader global context.

YOYO MA HAS PERFORMED to complete capacity at many venues throughout the world. They include a sold out the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, the premiere of contemporary music entitled "Heaven, Earth, Mankind: Symphony 1997" celebrating the return of Hong Kong to Chinese Rule.

ALONGSIDE his extensive performing and recording, YoYo Ma devotes time to work with young musicians in programs such as those at Interlochen and Tanglewood. He seeks to include educational outreach activities in his regular touring schedule as well, through master classes and more informal interaction with student audiences. He is also working to develop concerts for family audiences and appeared with Emanuel Ax on Canegie Hall's family series. He seeks to include educational outreach activities in his regular touring schedule through master classes and more informal interaction with students. He is also working to develop concerts for family audiences, and he appears with Emanuel Ax in Carnegie Hall's family series.

OTHER WORKS designed for children include the following: Ma's performance on the recent release Lulie the Iceberg (SK 61665), a one-time performance, recorded live at Carnegie Hall, of a musical tale for children about the environment. Based on a children's book by Princess Hisako of Takamodo, Lulie the Iceberg features an exciting original musical score by American composer Jeffrey Stock performed by Ma, violinist Pamela Frank and Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Paul Winter, accompanied by chorus and orchestra.

HIS VISION OF INCORPORATING MUSIC & TECHNOLOGY into a "true musical experiences" started in 1964 when his father (Hiao-Tsiun Ma) came home to his family's Manhattan apartment with a Norelco tape recorder that could tape music onto a cassette. This allowed hm to listen to himself after practicing. He has embraced technology innovations to forge bridges across barriers of time, geography and culture. His embracement and vision of technology has led him to participate in futuristic performance applications such as Tan Dun's 2003 "The Map." This piece (described as a concerto for cello, video and orchestra), incorporated digital images of the performances of traditional musicnas from China's Hunan that "played'' at Tanglewood along with a live orchestra. This is Mr. Ma's attempt to use such a video or audio recording as a window into the soul of the person on the other side of the 1's and 0's. Their fantasy is that "500 years from now a symphony orchestra and cellist will play with this girl and they will have exactly the same feeling as we do today, across language, time, culture, place. The technology makes that possible.''

Yo-Yo Ma Interview  
Yo-Yo Ma / Emmanuel Ax Concert Review  
Yo-Yo Ma Interview with TIME's Josh Tyrangiel  
Silk Road Project Concert Review
World Beat & Silk Road Project  
His Silk Road Project (a multidisciplinary collection of performing artists that he founded to connect the classical tradition of the West with the diverse Middle Eastern and Asian musical cultures along the historical caravan route - see above) is utilizing modern technology to make obscure cultural traditions accessible to Western audiences. This was seen in a recent 30 minute composition inspired by an 18th century Chinese scroll which included digitized sections of the scroll that depicted an Imperial voyage to China's Southern region that was written by its members that included Kojiro Umezaki (who plays the Japanese flute called the shakuhachi and is an instructor in music and new media at McGill University in Montreal), Shane Shanahan (an American percussionist) and Wu Man, a master of the pipa, an upright Chinese lute digitized important sections of the scroll.

His efforts clearly defines one of the few things that distinguishes him from other performers - his constant search to have a direction connection with his audiences because of their great importantance to him.

His hope is about one message: "We've got to emotionally feel interdependent. Not co-dependent in the negative sense, but interdependent in the sense that everybody has strengths.'' "We actually do have to live in one world,'' he added, "and all of this technology is making it more essential that we have a way of thinking about a whole because we know that the alternative is disaster, is total, utter disaster.'

YoYo Ma
BORN IN PARIS in 1955 of Chinese parents, YoYo Ma began his cello studies with his father at age 4. Later, he studied with Janos Scholz and in 1962 he began his studies with Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School. A graduate of Harvard University, he was accorded the special distinction of an honorary doctorate in music in 1991 by his alma mater. He was also the recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize in 1978. Mr. Ma and his wife, Jill, have two children, Nicholas and Emily.

YoYo Ma and Bobby McFerrin

YOYO MA gave his first public recital at age 5 and by the time he was 19 was being compared with such masters as Rostropovich and Casals.

ONE of the most sought-after cellists of our time, Mr. Ma has appeared with eminent conductors and orchestras in all the music capitals of the world. He has also earned a distinguished international reputation as an ambassador for classical music and its vital role in society. He currently plays a Montagnana cello from Venice made in 1733 and a Davidoff Stradivarius made in 1712.  


1) Classic Yo-Yo
With songs like the theme from "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", 1B from "Appalachian Journey", and Libertango from "Soul of Tango" - it's a perfect doorway into the musical world of Yo- Yo Ma.

2) Simply Baroque II
Yo-Yo Ma delivers a flawless performance of perfectly balanced and playful pieces by Bach and Boccherini.

3) Obrigado Brazil
Yo-Yo Ma collaborated and performed with artists such as Rosa Passos and Sergio and Odair Assad.

4) Bach: Six Unaccompanied Cello Suites
Yo-Yo Ma brilliantly brings to life the flowing melodies Bach so masterfully created. It's Yo-Yo Ma in his purest form.

5) Made in America
This CD shows a different side of Yo-Yo Ma. The pieces by Charles Ives and Leon Kirchner are dissonant
and tense. Also on this album are the very famous Three Preludes for Piano by George Gershwin and two clarinet sonatas by Leonard Bernstein.

6) Great Cello Concertos
Yo-Yo Ma plays the works of Haydn, Saint-Saëns, Schumann, Dvorak, and Elgar with the English Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre
National d'Ile de France, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Berlin
Philharmonic Orchestra, and the London Symphony Orchestra respectively.

7) Brahms: Sonatas for Cello & Piano
Yo-Yo Ma teams up with pianist Emmanuel Ax to play three sonatas, op. 38, op. 99, and op. 108. Both Yo-Yo Ma and Brahms.

8) Soul of Tango - The Music of Astor Piazzolla
The traditional tango music by internationally known, Astor Piazzolla, is a mix of jazz and classical style.

9) Silk Road Journey: When Strangers Meet
Yo-Yo Ma explores and experiments with songs from countries along the ancient silk trade routes – from China to the Middle East to Northern Europe.

10) Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone
Yo-Yo Ma and Ennio Morricone join together to recreate the beautiful music Morricone is famous for.

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