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Yo-Yo Ma plays Place des Arts metro / Montreal Gazette

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With the subway rumbling underneath and a cold wind penetrating from the outside, Place des Arts métro station on a Saturday afternoon was not quite the black-tie venue and ideal acoustic theatre Yo-Yo Ma was used to. His free concert in the métro was part of his "Bach project," to play Johann Sebastian Bach's six suites for solo cello in 36 places on six continents.

But when the renowned musician made his way through the crowd with his $2.5-million cello on his back, the station was immediately transformed into a concert hall, and its patrons into patrons of the arts - if only for a brief time.  "This is fantastic - in the métro, for everyone," Ma said, greeting the crowd in French. "And now I want to play something for you and we'll see what happens." Corralled behind police tape to allow other métro users to bypass the concert, hundreds of fans immediately fell silent as the Chinese-American virtuoso began to play the Bach suites for solo cello, for which he has become famous the world over.