Stories » Yo-Yo Ma tells 'People' that 'it's not about winning, but about sharing'

Top 10 for Jan

Yo-Yo Ma tells 'People' that 'it's not about winning, but about sharing'

Bookmark and Share

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