Yo-Yo Ma, Cellist

  

Yo-Yo Ma plays the prelude from Bach´s Cello Suite No. 1

 

Beethoven, Triple Concierto y Fantasía Coral. Yo-Yo Ma, Perlman, Barenboim

  

Tchaikovsky: Rococo Variations [Yo Yo Ma, violoncello]

  

Yo-Yo Ma: Elgar Cello Concerto, 1st mvmt

  

Cinema Paradiso - Yo-Yo Ma and Chris Botti

Yo-Yo Ma, Biography

Yo-Yo Ma (Chinese American, born Oct 7, 1955) is a cellist. He spent his schooling years in New York City and was a child prodigy, performing from the age of five. He graduated from Juilliard School and Harvard University and has enjoyed a prolific career as both a soloist performing with orchestras around the world and a recording artist. His 90+ albums have received 18 Grammy Awards.

Childhood and Youth

Yo-Yo Ma was born in Paris to Chinese parents and had a musical upbringing. His mother, Marina Lu, was a singer and his father, Hiao-Tsiun Ma, was a violinist and professor of music at Nanjing National Central University (predecessor of the present-day Nanjing University). The family moved to New York when he was five years old.

At a young age, Ma began studying violin and later viola, finally settling on the cello in 1960 at age four. According to Ma, his first choice was the double bass due to its large size, but he compromised and took up cello instead. The child prodigy began performing before audiences at age five and performed for Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy when he was seven.[4][5] At age eight, he appeared on American television with his sister, Yeou-Cheng Ma, in a concert conducted by Leonard Bernstein. In 1964, Isaac Stern introduced them on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and they performed the Sonata of Sammartini. He attended Trinity School in New York but transferred to the Professional Children's School, from which he graduated at age 15.[6] He appeared as a soloist with the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra in a performance of the Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations.

Ma played in the Marlboro Festival Orchestra under the direction of cellist and conductor Pablo Casals who was in his 90th at that time. Ma would ultimately spend four summers at the Marlboro Music Festival after meeting and falling in love with festival administrator Jill Hornor his first summer there in 1972 at the age of 16.[7

Adult Life

Yo-Yo Ma is married to Jill Hornor, a German literature professor at Harvard. They have two children, Nicholas and Emily.

Ma studied at The Juilliard School at age 19 with Leonard Rose and attended Columbia University but dropped out. He enrolled at Harvard College later on. Ma received his bachelor's degree from Harvard in 1976.[8] In 1991, he received an honorary doctorate from Harvard.

Ma is known for his smooth, rich tone as well as his virtuosity. In addition to recordings of the standard classical repertoire, he has recorded a wide variety of folk music such as American bluegrass music, traditional Chinese melodies, the tangos of Argentinian composer Ástor Piazzolla, and Brazilian music. He also collaborated with Grammy Award-winning jazz/reggae singer Bobby McFerrin.

Ma currently plays with his own Silk Road Ensemble, which has the goal of connecting the world’s neighborhoods by bringing together artists and audiences. From flashy surf guitar sounds to ninth century Chinese poetry, from modular playlists to Egyptian rhythms, the Silk Road Ensemble mixes the modern and the traditional, breaking boundaries of ethnicity and era. With a Playlist Without Borders, Ma and his ensemble demonstrate that there are no barriers for those approaching music with an open mind.

Yo-Yo Ma's primary performance instrument is a Montagnana cello built in 1733 valued at US$2.5 million. It was named “Petunia” by a female student who approached him after one of his classes in Salt Lake City asking if he had a nickname for his cello. He said, "No, but if I play for you, will you name it?" She chose Petunia and it stuck.[19] This cello was lost in the fall of 1999 when Ma accidentally left the instrument in a taxicab in New York City.[20] It was later recovered undamaged. Another of Ma's cellos is the Davidov Stradivarius built in 1712. It was previously owned by Jacqueline du Pré, who passed it to him upon her death. He also owns a modern cello made by Peter and Wendela Moes of Peissenberg, Germany, and one of carbon fiber by the Luis and Clark company of Boston

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Photo: "Yo-Yo Ma 2013" by Ralph Daily - https://www.flickr.com/photos/ralphandjenny/12196206846/. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons