Yo-Yo Ma's multi-faceted career is testament to his enduring belief in culture's power to generate trust and understanding. Whether performing new or familiar works from the cello repertoire, collaborating with communities and institutions to explore culture's role in society, or engaging unexpected musical forms, Yo-Yo strives to foster connections that stimulate the imagination and reinforce our humanity.
Yo-Yo maintains a balance between engagements as a soloist with orchestras, recital and chamber music activities, and collaborations with a wide circle of artists and institutions. With partners from around the world and across disciplines, Yo-Yo creates programs that stretch the boundaries of genre and tradition to explore music-making as a means not only to share and express meaning, but also as a model for the cultural collaboration he considers essential to a strong society.
Expanding upon this belief, in 1998 Yo-Yo established Silkroad, a collective of artists from around the world who create music that engages their many traditions. In addition to presenting performances in venues from Suntory Hall to the Hollywood Bowl, Silkroad collaborates with museums and universities to develop training programs for teachers, musicians, and learners of all ages. Silkroad has commissioned more than 100 new works from composers and arrangers around the globe, and released seven albums, most recently a collection of music recorded for The Vietnam War, a documentary film from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.
Through his work with Silkroad, as well as throughout his career, Yo-Yo Ma seeks to expand the classical 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 Osvaldo Golijov, Leon Kirchner, Zhao Lin, Christopher Rouse, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Giovanni Sollima, Bright Sheng, Tan Dun, and John Williams.
In addition to his work as a performing artist, Yo-Yo partners with communities and institutions from Chicago to Guangzhou to develop programs that champion culture's power to transform lives and forge a more connected world. Among his many roles, he is the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant, artistic director of the annual Youth Music Culture Guangdong festival, and UN Messenger of Peace. He is the first artist ever appointed to the World Economic Forum's board of trustees.
Yo-Yo's discography of over 100 albums (including 19 Grammy Award winners) reflects his wide-ranging interests. In addition to his many iconic renditions of the Western classical canon, he has made several recordings that defy categorization, among them "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." Yo-Yo's recent recordings include: "Songs from the Arc of Life," with pianist Kathryn Stott; "Sing Me Home," with the Silkroad Ensemble, which won the 2016 Grammy for Best World Music Album; "Bach Trios," with Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile; "Brahms: The Piano Trios," with Emanuel Ax and Leonidas Kavakos; and "Six Evolutions – Bach: Cello Suites."
In August 2018, Yo-Yo began a new journey, setting out to perform Johann Sebastian Bach's six suites for solo cello in one sitting in 36 locations around the world, iconic venues that encompass our cultural heritage, our current creativity, and the challenges of peace and understanding that will shape our future. Each concert will be an example of culture's power to create moments of shared understanding, as well as an invitation to a larger conversation about culture, society, and the themes that connect us all.
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 three years later moved with his family to New York City, where he continued his cello studies with Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School. After his conservatory training, he sought out a liberal arts education, graduating from Harvard University with a degree in anthropology 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 Leonie Sonning Music Prize (2006), the World Economic Forum's Crystal Award (2008), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2010), Kennedy Center Honors (2011), the Polar Music Prize (2012), the Vilcek Prize in Contemporary Music (2013), and the J. Paul Getty Medal Award (2016). He has performed for eight American presidents, most recently at the invitation of President Obama on the occasion of the 56th Inaugural Ceremony.
Yo-Yo and his wife have two children. He plays three instruments, a 2003 Moes & Moes cello, made in the United States, a 1733 Montagnana cello from Venice, and the 1712 Davidoff Stradivarius.
Kathryn Stott is internationally recognised as one of Britain's most versatile and imaginative musicians and among today's most engaging pianists. She is in demand for a wide variety of chamber music alliances, playing with some of the world's leading instrumentalists, as well as appearing on major international concert platforms in recitals and concerto performances. Kathryn has also directed several distinctive concert series and festivals and has developed an extensive and exceptionally varied catalogue of recordings.
Born in Lancashire, she studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School and the Royal College of Music and was a prize-winner at the Leeds International Piano Competition 1978. Her teachers included Nadia Boulanger, Vlado Perlemuter and Kendall Taylor. In addition to her busy career as a performer, she is a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London and was recently made an Honorary Member.
Kathryn has been performing and recording with Yo-Yo Ma for nearly 30 years and together they regularly tour Europe, the USA, South America and the Far East. She has developed shared musical interests with an amazing array of performers and has always enjoyed collaborations with other musicians. With a vast repertoire, Kathryn has maintained a keen interest in contemporary music and has had many works written especially for her. In particular, her close musical relationship with the composer Graham Fitkin has led to 7 World premieres. She is a remarkable exponent of Tango and other Latin dance music, reflected in her collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma and leading South American musicians on the Grammy Award-winning Sony CD ‘Soul of the Tango' and its successor ‘Obrigado Brazil'. In the recording studio she has created a large and eclectic body of work including concertos and solo repertoire; of particular note is her recording for Hyperion of the complete solo works by Fauré and the complete Kabalevsky Concertos for Chandos. Apart from her CDs with Yo-Yo Ma, she has also recorded with Truls Mørk, Christian Poltéra, the Hermitage String Trio, Guy Johnston, the Doric string quartet, Noriko Ogawa and Tine Thing Helseth.
Kathryn Stott has been the artistic vision behind several major festivals and concert series. ‘Piano 2000' and ‘Piano 2003' ( Bridgewater Hall, Manchester) established her reputation as an astute programmer; and following the earlier ‘Fauré and the French Connection' she was appointed Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French Government. From 2009 - 2014 she is Artistic Director of the Manchester Chamber Concerts Society and was Guest Artistic Director of Incontri in Terra di Siena in 2010 and 2011. Kathryn curated a series of 6 concerts called ‘Dance!' for Leeds International Concerts in 2014.
A regular visitor to international festivals both as soloist and chamber musician, Kathryn has recently performed at the Kennedy Centre, Washington DC, Tonhalle, Zurich and made a welcome return to the BBC Proms performing with the BBC Concerto Orchestra. In 2014, she also toured the UK with cellist Giovanni Sollima and performed for the first time with JP Jofre and his Hard Tango Chamber Band in New York. 2015 began with a highly successful tour of New Zealand. In the Autumn, Kathryn will undertake an extensive solo tour of Australia before continuing her concert schedule in the Far East. 2015 also celebrates her 30 year partnership with Yo-Yo Ma.
In 2008 Kathryn celebrated her 50th birthday with 25 musician friends raising £30k for HIV research and Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy. Besides her performing commitments, Kathryn has also been on the Board of the Hallé Orchestra, a position she held for 7 years. Kathy Stott has a daughter, Lucy, and lives in Manchester. A keen walker, she enjoys being out in the countryside and spending time with her working cocker spaniel, Archie.
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott come together again, this time for Songs of Comfort and Hope, set for release on December 11, 2020 on Sony Classical. Available now for preorder, Songs of Comfort and Hope is inspired by the series of recorded-at-home musical offerings that Ma began sharing in the first days of the COVID-19 lockdown in the United States. Throughout the spring and summer, Yo-Yo Ma's #SongsofComfort grew from a self-shot video of Antonín Dvořák's "Goin' Home" into a worldwide effort that has reached more than 18 million people.
For decades Yo-Yo Ma has been hailed as the greatest cellist in the world. But at the mention of his long list of accolades - which includes 18 Grammy Awards and a Presidential Medal of Freedom - the virtuoso wrinkles his brow.
"I really think that living lightly is very good," Ma, whose modesty has received as much praise over the years as his musical prowess, tells PEOPLE in its latest issue. "The best thing is there is no best. It's not about winning, but about sharing."
Throughout his illustrious career, Ma, 65, who was born in Paris to Chinese immigrants and raised in New York City, has been tirelessly building cultural bridges.
His tool, of course, is the universal language of music. "It's very easy to feel despondent and discouraged, but we have to keep going," says the humanitarian, whose non-profit organization Silkroad unites world-class musicians from around the globe to champion arts education and collaboration across cultures.
In a time of great division, Ma's new genre-spanning album Songs of Comfort and Hope, with pianist Kathryn Stott, is his way of offering solace in a time of fear.
For Ma's wide-ranging interview - in which he reflects on his long-lasting career, his 42-year marriage to wife Jill Hornor and the tight-knit family they've created. "My grandchildren will be 82 and 83 in the year 2100," he says. "These two little people that I love dearly make me think a lot about what kind of world I'm leaving for them." PHOTO: CREDIT: STEPHEN VOSS/REDUX
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Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott's newest collaboration, Songs of Comfort and Hope, is inspired by the series of recorded-at-home musical offerings that Ma began sharing in the first days of the COVID-19 lockdown in the United States. The album includes 21 new recordings, which span modern arrangements of traditional folk tunes, canonical pop songs, jazz standards, and mainstays from the western classical repertoire. "Songs are little time capsules of emotions: they can contain long-lost dreams and desires, and feelings of great spirit, optimism, and unity," Ma and Stott write of their new album.
For December 14, 2020, Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott: Songs of Comfort and Hope is the WFMT: Chicago 'Featured New Release'
Back in June, I received an unexpected message from British pianist Kathryn Stott. I'd long been a great admirer of her musicianship and was familiar with many of her outstanding recordings but, until that point, our paths had barely crossed – we were yet to meet in person or even have a spoken conversation.
Kathy's enquiry itself was quite unusual: would I be interested in doing a ‘spin' on Waltzing Matilda for cello and piano? She made it clear that it was not to be a straightforward arrangement, but rather a more personal and inventive piece incorporating a ‘twist' on the famous ballad tune. Having long had a soft spot for the melody, I expressed my interest and gave Kathy a brief overview of how I might approach the task. I was very drawn to the idea of working on a more lyric version of the tune, in contrast to the jauntiness which characterises most versions of Waltzing Matilda we hear performed today.
Less than a week later I received an email from Yo-Yo Ma's office – he would be the cellist Kathy was collaborating with, and the Fantasia on Waltzing Matilda (as my work eventually became known) would be included in their upcoming album collection Songs of Comfort and Hope, to be released later in the year on Sony Classical. This was of course very exciting news. But more pressingly, the turnaround of six weeks to completion was very tight and there was little time to sit around idly pondering the task at hand.
Songs of Comfort and Hope includes 20 other tracks and is a beautifully curated collection of comforting music for our challenging times. To have contributed in my own small way to this inspiring project is something I will always consider to be a tremendous privilege.
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Cal Performances at Home Concert presents this online concert by the legendary cellist and acclaimed pianist. The show was filmed this month during their performance at Taiwan's National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts Concert Hall. The songs are inspired by music that Yo-Yo Ma recorded at his home during the beginning of the pandemic lockdown. Stream it until December 12th. Yo-Yo Ma's new album, which debuts next month, is also titled Songs of Comfort and Hope.
Cal Performances at Home Concert presents - Yo-Yo Ma & Kathryn Stott: Songs of Comfort and Hope makes 91.7:KALW San Francisco 'Sights & Sounds Thanksgiving Picks.' SEE THE PAGE
Liberation from muscle-memory habits is a major goal of this column. And is any aspect of guitar playing more susceptible to mindless auto-pilot than vibrato? This lesson will help you truly listen to your vibrato. You'll get better at applying the effect mindfully to heighten your musical ideas, as opposed to automatically wiggling your fretting hand whenever you reach a sustained note. We'll look at vibrato technique in general, and then try some exercises designed to help you deploy various approaches with greater awareness.
But first, the easy part: a listening party! Classically Speaking, here's Yo-Yo Ma with Kathryn Stott playing "The Swan" from Camille Saint-Saens's Carnival of the Animals. Ma applies vibrato almost constantly (watch his left hand!) but the effect never gets tiresome. Man, the way he occupies every single note! Classical composers generally don't give note-for-note vibrato instruction in their scores, though there might be a general indication like molto vibrato and non vibrare, which translate roughly from Italian as "shake it, baby" and "give it a rest, Mr. Jiggles." Check out other renditions of this piece on YouTube to hear how differently each cellist employs vibrato, even though they're all playing note-for-note from the same score.
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World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma and internationally recognized pianist Kathryn Stott perform in recital at the Holland Center tomorrow evening at 7:30. The duo have known one another for years and have performed and traveled together extensively around the world. Ma says Tuesday night's concert features music that represents snapshots of life. He says he and Stott had an idea of marking the memories of a person's life through music so they chose pieces for the program that are evocative of the phases of life everyone goes through. "This is our personal reflection on what an arc of life is like for everybody. And this is an invitation that anybody can do the same. It's another way of being present in your own life and thinking about things. That's one set."
Ma says the next set is the Sonata in D minor by Shostakovich which represents the kind of memories that build on empathy. The second half of the program features a piece called Il bell'Antonio, written by a friend of Ma's, also a cellist. And the program ends with a work Cesar Franck wrote as a wedding gift for a friend.
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In an eclectic program, cellist Yo Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott gave a concert Thursday evening, May 12, at Davies Hall. Longtime collaborators in both live performances and recordings, Yo Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott have a wonderful feel for each other's musicianship. They opened this program with five pieces from something they term the "Arc of Life Suite," which they recorded in 2015. However, as with many of Yo Yo Ma's themed projects, this grouping seems a bit arbitrary and forced, though he sees it "as an invitation to our audience to remember and imagine what the soundtracks of their lives might be…. Childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle age, old age: what do they sound like?" Personally, I can't imagine anyone's life having this group of works as its soundtrack; but, oh well, there's beautiful music here, and, anyway, Yo Yo Ma often stretches the point of his themed projects way out of proportion.
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WRTI's Mark Pinto, host of the Classical New Releases show, fills you in on the latest and greatest classical music CDs every Saturday at 5 pm. Here are five newly released recordings he recommends.
Almost since the day Kathryn Stott laid eyes on Yo-Yo Ma in his underwear while practicing the cello in her London flat, the two have been making beautiful music together. Actually, the two really did meet that way accidentally but have not been romantically involved. But the way they perform together on this new recording will have you convinced that they are musical soul-mates. Good friends who have worked together for the past 30 years, the pianist and cellist breathe as one in their performances of these 19 miniatures which express, as Ma states, "the context of a life, of our lives… the soundtrack of life." The imaginatively-sequenced selections traverse a wide emotional terrain. Stott and Ma completely inhabit each piece and convey each work's unique personality, whether delicate (Brahms' Lullaby), playful (Gade's Tango Jalousie), dramatic (Sibelius' Was It a Dream?), primal (Sollima's Il bell'Antonio), wistful (Elgar's Salut d'amour), soul-searching (Messiaen's Praise to the Eternity of Jesus), or devout (Schubert's and Bach-Gounod's Ave Marias).
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott have created a unique classical music experience with their new Sony Classical recording Songs from the Arc of Life. This all-new recording also celebrates thirty years of friendship and collaboration in concerts and recordings for Ma and Stott. The album includes pieces they have frequently performed but never recorded, as well as a handful of discoveries. "I like to think of Songs from the Arc of Life as an invitation to our audience to remember and imagine what the soundtracks of their lives might be," Yo-Yo Ma says. "Kathy and I have talked for years about recording an album of music we absolutely love, pieces that express the context of a life, of our lives. Childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle age, old age: what do they sound like?"
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Yo-Yo Ma began dazzling audiences when he was five. Now, his new album "Songs from the Arc of Life," which came out just before his 60th birthday, focuses on the ups and downs of the human experience. PBS: NewsHour Chief arts and culture correspondent Jeffrey Brown recently visited Ma at a recording studio in New York. The cellist told him the album, which he recorded with his longtime collaborator pianist Kathryn Stott, follows the way a person's relationship to music changes with age.
"What do people remember from their childhood, music from their childhood, from first dance all the way through?" he said. "We went through a selection process to think [about], what do people go through when they are teenagers, or what do they go through when they're in, you know, adolescence, or middle age, or late age." WATCH THE VIDEO
The moment has come to share the exiting news of The Charleston Gaillard Center's pending completion and Grand Opening Gala! The inaugural concert of the Martha & John Rivers Performance Hall on October 18, 2015 will feature world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, accompanied by the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and its new Music Director, Ken Lam.
In recordings, Ma has recently teamed with pianist Kathryn Stott to create a unique classical music experience. Their new Sony Classical recording - Songs from the Arc of Life celebrates thirty years of friendship and collaboration in concerts and recordings for the pair. The album includes pieces they have frequently performed but never recorded, as well as a handful of discoveries.
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Crossover Media is proud to launch its Medium existence presenting an exclusive interview with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott, discussing their new Sony Classical recording - Songs from the Arc of Life.
Celebrating thirty years of friendship and collaboration in concerts and recordings, Ma and Stott share pieces they have frequently performed but have never recorded. In the interview, they reflect on the journey of this project, and on the journey called life.
Backstory - The first time Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott met, it was completely by accident. In the summer of 1978, Yo-Yo and his wife Jill sublet a London flat, but to their surprise someone else was living there. That someone was Kathryn Stott. Returning home after a holiday, the pianist, also unaware of her new roommates, walked in to her living room to discover Yo-Yo practicing his cello. Happily everything sorted itself out and six years later what started as an accidental meeting turned into a wonderful 30-year collaboration as recital partners. Aging gracefully together through the years with a collective musical curiosity, the duo has a managed to create a remarkable unforced intimacy of playing that unites both of their instruments into a singular voice.
Touring regularly throughout Europe, the USA, South America and the Far East, Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott have recorded three albums for Sony Classical – the 1999 - Grammy Award winning Soul of the Tango which explored the music of Astor Piazzolla, the 2004 recording - Obrigado Brazil, which fuses diverse styles into a cohesive European-South American voice, and Paris: La Belle Époque, a stylish disc of more seriously minded French music from the turn of the 20th century.
Life is One Big Arc
Kathryn Stott: Songs from the Arc of Life is an album that Yo-Yo and I have been talking about making for a very long time. It's a beautiful story, from the beginning of life, and what we see as the journey. And it's taken us a long time and much discussion, as to what we think that journey might be, because everybody's journey is slightly different.
So we had some starting points. What might happen when you're a child; what might happen, when you're going through your twenties. The kind of adventures you might have. Where to start? You know, the beginning of life – how do we represent that in music? To me, this is a very cohesive story line. And people can add things to it. They can take something away. They can say, "Well, that didn't happen to me but that's an interesting part of your own story." I love this title: the arc of life. Because it is one big arc.
Yo-Yo Ma: I first started thinking about this, when I was playing at friends' weddings and, unfortunately, also at their memorial services. Because suddenly the music I'm playing is incredibly purposeful. It's to bring joy. It's to express some form of being in a state of being for two people who want to get married or in the case of a memorial service, it's to have a depth of thinking about someone's life. And it doesn't have to be said, it could celebratory, it could be all kinds of things. But, ah, but … so that took me out of, you know, the usual, "OK, I'm playing a concert. For what reason? Why are people coming? Are they coming for the communal sense, feeling, of coming together?"
Music and Memories
Yo-Yo Ma: I think the role of music, the role of sound is crucial for anybody that wants to remember anything. There can be just even certain chords or a voice or, of course, a whole piece, and I'm immediately transported to something. I say, "Oh, yeah, that reminds me – I haven't heard that for so long. I remember – I remember when." You hear a piece of music, and you remember when, where I was, who I was with. It can transport you. It can also kind of transport you to the future, if you can allow your imagination to go with it. But I think everybody is able to be moved by music to a place they have once been.
Locating memory is a fundamental human cultural act. How many experiences have you gone through that you remember, and how many experiences have you gone through that you don't remember? I try to live life so that I will remember as much as possible of what I go through, especially if I have a choice in how to go through life and every day.
Cultures remember things. Gypsies, the Roma people, they don't have a written language or history, but they code five generations of their experiences through music and songs. So everything that they are, you get to hear in the music. Their like seventeen layers of sound, of realities that get incorporated into like one phrase, one sound? If you can manage to do that, you then capture something that might be essential.
Kathryn Stott: Music is one of the strongest powers to evoke memories from the past. There can be just even certain chords or a voice or, of course, a whole piece, and I'm immediately transported to something. You hear a piece of music, and you remember when, where I was, who I was with. It can transport you. I think it can also kind of transport you to the future, if you can allow your imagination to go with it. But I think everybody is able to be moved by music to a place they have once been.
Yo-Yo Ma: Music is able to transcend. It's a way to escape. It's a way to go to another emotion. Whether we want it or not, it will take us there. I've sat in a concert and something has been incredibly moving, I can feel the way that the person next to me is also feeling that. And sometimes by the end of the performance there's a collective feeling of joy or of deep sadness. I can remember once completely bursting into tears at the end of a concert - listening – and sharing that emotion with an audience was really incredibly powerful. More so than I would have felt, I think, if I was on my own. And perhaps the emotion became stronger because there were more of us.
What do we do with a life?
Yo-Yo Ma: What do we do with a life? We all share that. You go from the beginning to the end. And what happens in between? What do people go through? What do they experience? What do they cherish? What do they want to remember? What do they want to forget? How do they want to say, "Well, I want to put an X on this part of my life", and how do you express that in music? How do you express longing? How do you express regret? How do you express young love? Mature love? Trying to remember something, but you can't quite remember it. And then it comes back in full force.
Interested in the full audio interview that also includes comments by Ma and Stott on the individual tracks of Songs from the Arc of Life? You can find it on our Soundcloud page
Few musicians possess an appetite for diversity as voracious as Yo-Yo Ma's. The renowned cellist, who turns 60 today, calls himself a "venture culturalist." His collaborations include making music for dancers (including Monday night's collaboration with American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer Misty Copeland on Stephen Colbert's Late Show), filmmakers, garden designers, architects, Kabuki artists, Muppets and figure skaters. "Music, ultimately, is one of the great ways that we as humans have for coding internal life," Ma said in a PBS documentary. "It's glue that joins people together."
Ma's list of awards and achievements is exhaustive: 18 Grammys, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and National Medal of the Arts. He is a Kennedy Center Honoree, United Nations Messenger for Peace and a member of the President's Committee on Arts and the Humanities. Still, despite all the honors, perhaps Yo-Yo Ma's greatest gift is just being himself - with tireless curiosity and a generous spirit. To mark Ma's 60th, we've collected a handful of performances that barely begin to display the depth of this singular artist. READ THE FULL Deceptive Cadence PIECE
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One of the world's most adventurous musician's - Yo-Yo Ma, turns 60 today - Wednesday October 7. From the solo suites of Bach to his "Silk Road" collaborations with artists from around the world, he has covered more musical ground than anyone just about any of us can think of. Syndicated Global Village celebrates the acclaimed cellist's birthday with selections from his world music projects.
Ma's most recent recorded endeavor has him joining forces with pianist Kathryn Stott to create a unique classical music experience with their new Sony Classical recording - Songs from the Arc of Life. This all-new recording also celebrates thirty years of friendship and collaboration in concerts and recordings for Ma and Stott. The album includes pieces they have frequently performed but never recorded, as well as a handful of discoveries. About the album, Ma said - "I like to think of Songs from the Arc of Life as an invitation to our audience to remember and imagine what the soundtracks of their lives might be. Kathy and I have talked for years about recording an album of music we absolutely love, pieces that express the context of a life, of our lives. Childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle age, old age: what do they sound like?"
Tune in tonight to see Cellist Yo-Yo Ma on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS at 1135pm EST / 1035 CST.
Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott have created a unique classical music experience with their new Sony Classical recording - Songs from the Arc of Life. Released on September 18, this all-new recording also celebrates thirty years of friendship and collaboration in concerts and recordings for Ma and Stott. The album includes pieces they have frequently performed but never recorded, as well as a handful of discoveries.
Born of Chinese descent on October 7, 1955, in Paris, France, Yo-Yo Ma's 60th birthday is this Wednesday, and the cellist has had an asounding career which has produced more than 75 albums and 15 Grammy Awards. Artistic director of the Silk Road Project, an organization dedicated to promoting the various traditions along the ancient Silk Road trade route, Ma was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2001, and in 2010, was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
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After 55 years of playing, yes, even Yo-Yo Ma needs to practice. "What all string players have in common is that if we don't play for awhile, we actually start from ground zero," Ma says. Ma was four when he started the cello. At seven, he was performing with his big sister for an audience that included two US presidents. Now nearing his milestone birthday, he's ever youthful, always learning, asking questions, constantly building bridges. And striving for perfection.
Despite all his achievements-more than 100 CDs, 18 Grammy Awards, and other honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Arts-he's going full tilt toward more accomplishments.
In the weeks before his birthday, Ma's agenda was packed. At Tanglewood, his scheduled performances included all three Brahms trios with Emanuel Ax and Leonidas Kavakos and the six Beethoven cello sonatas with Ax. That was followed by a six-country European tour with Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony, featuring Strauss' Don Quixote in advance of next year's 400th anniversary of Cervantes' death. At the London Proms, he was scheduled to play all six Bach Cello Suites in one night. In September, his new album, Songs from the Arc of Life (Sony Masterworks), with long-time accompanist Kathryn Stott on piano, was to be released, as was a documentary focusing on musicians in his Silk Road Ensemble-a collective of musicians, composers, visual artists, and more that explores Eurasian culture. READ THE FULL Strings Magazine ARTICLE
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott have created a unique classical music experience with their new Sony Classical recording - Songs from the Arc of Life. This all-new recording celebrates thirty years of friendship and collaboration in concerts and recordings for the duo, and the album includes pieces they have frequently performed but never recorded, as well as a handful of discoveries.
"I like to think of Songs from the Arc of Life as an invitation to our audience to remember and imagine what the soundtracks of their lives might be," Yo-Yo Ma says. "Kathy and I have talked for years about recording an album of music we absolutely love, pieces that express the context of a life, of our lives. Childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle age, old age: what do they sound like?"
Yo-Yo Ma | Kathryn Stott - Songs from the Arc of Life is the KDFC: San Francisco: CD of the Week
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott create a unique classical music experience with their new Sony Classical recording Songs from the Arc of Life available September 18, 2015. This all-new recording also celebrates thirty years of friendship and collaboration in concerts and recordings for Ma and Stott. The album includes pieces they have frequently performed but never recorded, as well as a handful of discoveries.
"I like to think of Songs from the Arc of Life as an invitation to our audience to remember and imagine what the soundtracks of their lives might be," Yo-Yo Ma says. "Kathy and I have talked for years about recording an album of music we absolutely love, pieces that express the context of a life, of our lives. Childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle age, old age: what do they sound like?" Watch the attached performance and video
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott have created a unique classical music experience with their new Sony Classical recording - Songs from the Arc of Life which celebrates thirty years of friendship and collaboration in concerts and recordings for Ma and Stott. The album includes pieces they have frequently performed but never recorded, as well as a handful of discoveries.
"I like to think of Songs from the Arc of Life as an invitation to our audience to remember and imagine what the soundtracks of their lives might be," Yo-Yo Ma says. "Kathy and I have talked for years about recording an album of music we absolutely love, pieces that express the context of a life, of our lives. Childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle age, old age: what do they sound like?" WATCH THE VIDEO
Longtime friends cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott offer pieces they have frequently performed but never recorded, as well as a handful of discoveries. ‘Songs from the Arc of Life' begins and ends with two, much-beloved settings of the traditional Ave Maria. In between is a remarkable spectrum of music that includes favorites by Brahms, Elgar, Saint-Saëns, Debussy and many others. Ma and Stott also perform a haunting piece by the contemporary composer Giovanni Sollima, a friend and colleague of both artists.
Songs from the Arc of Life on Sony Classical is the WFMT: Chicago - NEW RELEASE OF THE WEEK. Featured tracks are
Bach/Gounod: Ave Maria (2:43)
Brahms: Lullaby (1:50)
Dvořák: Songs My Mother Taught Me (1:57)
Fauré: Papillon (2:49)
Gade: Tango Jalousie (3:42)
Yo-Yo Ma, cello; Kathryn Stott, piano
When it comes to artistic partnerships, there's a lot to be said for the fireworks of musicians joining together for the first time. But there's another kind of collaboration that can yield profound pleasure: a recording with two artists who know each other deeply, in a relationship that has unfolded over years or even decades.
That's the case with world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott, who have been playing together since 1984. Over those many years, they've developed a wonderfully warm and mutually responsive musical partnership that has blossomed in performances that are both generous and incisive.
On Songs From The Arc Of Life, released just a few weeks shy of the cellist's 60th birthday, Ma and Stott attempt to sketch out the emotional trajectories of a lifetime. Each track is meant to reflect a signpost of a life well lived, from the fleeting pleasures of childhood through the stormy depths of youthful passion to the power of enduring unspeakable trauma. (Perhaps it's no coincidence that the album's title echoes a Stevie Wonder classic.)
Songs From The Arc Of Life is full of such familiar treasures as the Brahms Lullaby, Saint-Saëns' The Swan and both the Bach/Gounod and the Schubert Ave Maria. But this album also includes some more unusual finds - including selections new to Ma and Stott - like Debussy's bittersweet Beau Soir, as well as a section of contemporary Italian composer and cellist Giovanni Sollima's score to the recent film The Handsome Antonio (a remake of the 1960 classic starring Marcello Mastroianni) that's a perfect sonic distillation of loneliness.
But the heart of the album lies in an unexpected place: the achingly beautiful, impossibly transcendent Louange à l'éternité de Jésus (Praise to the eternity of Jesus), from Olivier Messiaen's Quartet For The End Of Time. Written while Messiaen was held in a POW camp during WWII, it's a singular piece of music. Here, as Ma puts it, Messaien attempted "to code divine love, to describe divine love in sound" within the confines of unimaginable circumstances. While some of the other pieces on Songs From The Arc Of Life are comfortable cello favorites - lollipops, even - the presence of Louange travels somewhere more unsettling, as it pivots from the personal to the cosmic.
Take an NPR: First Listen to Yo-Yo Ma & Kathryn Stott, 'Songs From The Arc Of Life'
Reknowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma will be celebrating his 60th birthday this Fall, and as part of the celebration, he, along with pianist Kathryn Stott, will release a new album, Songs From the Arc of Life, on September 18. The record also celebrates 30 years of friendship and collaboration in concerts and recordings for Ma and Stott, and includes pieces they have frequently performed but never recorded, as well as a handful of discoveries.
"I like to think of Songs from the Arc of Life as an invitation to our audience to remember and imagine what the soundtracks of their lives might be," Ma says. "Kathy and I have talked for years about recording an album of music we absolutely love, pieces that express the context of a life, of our lives."
Yahoo Music is excited to premiere the video for "The Swan," by Camille Saint-Saëns. WATCH THE VIDEO
Crossover Media Projects with: Yo-Yo Ma | Kathryn Stott