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Yo-Yo Ma: Bio

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.

1 Bach: Prelude from Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major  
2 Vivaldi: II. Largo from  
3 Bach: Jesus, Joy of Man's Desiring BWV 147  
4 Bach: Sheep May Safely Graze, BWV 208  
5 Bach: Wachet auf, Sleeper's Awake BWV 645  
6 Saint-Saens: The Swan from Carnival of the Animals  
7 Saint-Saens: Havanaise, Op. 83  
8 Massenet: Meditation from Thais  
9 Kreisler: Liebesfreud  
10 Gershwin: I. Allegro ben ritmato e deciso from Thr  
11 Rachmaninoff : Vocalise with Bobby McFerrin  
12 Tchaikovsky: Andante Cantabile for Cello Solo&Orch  
13 Brahms: IV. Rondo alla Zingarese. Presto  
14 Dvorak: III. Finale. Allegro moderato from Con. Bm  
15 Mariano: Cristal  
16 Villa-Lobos: A lenda do caboclo  
17 Jobim: Chega de Saudade  
18 D'Rivera: Wapango  
19 Shostakovich: IV. Allegro from Sonata in D minor  
20 Piazzola: Libertango  
21 O'Connor: Appalachia Waltz  
22 O'Connor: Butterfly's Day Out  
23 Meyer: 1B  
24 Williams: Pickin' from Three Pieces for Solo Cello  
25 Traditional: Simple Gifts  
26 Morricone: Gabriel's Oboe  
27 Tan Dun: The Eternal Vow from Crouching Tiger  
28 Wilde: The Cellist of Sarajevo - A Lament in Rondo  
29 Azzaiolo: Chi passa per'sta strada  
30 Mido Mountain  
31 Mohini  
32 Bolling: Baroque in Rhythm / Suite for Cel/Pia Tri  
33 Porter: Anything Goes  
34 I Could Have Danced All Night (Lerner and Lowe)  
Yo-Yo Ma plays the prelude from Bach's Cello Suite No. 1
Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile And Stuart Duncan: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert
Extraordinary Minds: Yo-Yo Ma
Yo-Yo Ma plays Place des Arts metro
Salesforce - Fireside Chat with Trailblazer Yo-Yo Ma
Meryl Streep & Yo-Yo Ma - 2011 US-China Forum - A Musical Dialogue

An Essential Collection From Yo-Yo Ma. One Of The Most Popular Musicians Of Our Time! 34 Incredible tracks spanning Yo-Yo Ma's entire career - From his Academy Award winning performance on: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and his Grammy Winning Soul Of The Tango: to his latest Silk Road Ensemble recording: Beyond the Horizon.

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