Stories » Yo-Yo Ma On Intonation, Practice, and the Role of Music in Our Lives / Strings

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Yo-Yo Ma On Intonation, Practice, and the Role of Music in Our Lives / Strings

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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