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by Nicholas Jones

MA-Yo-YoYo Yo Ma is as close as the classical world is likely to get to a rock star. On Saturday night, the near-sellout crowd at Blossom was certainly rocking as Ma took the stage, strutting like a winning prizefighter with his cello triumphantly raised above his head.

But antics gave way to artistry almost immediately as Ma took his seat and launched into the Elgar cello concerto, stamping its opening chords with a ferocity that would alternate with lyricism throughout the performance.

In 1919, Elgar’s cello concerto suffered from a disastrous first performance, and for almost half a century it was barely played. A key figure in its rediscovery in the late 1960s was the charismatic young cellist Jacqueline du Pré, who reinterpreted it as a document of introspection and anxiety for a world newly tossed by war and social change. One of the cellos that Yo Yo Ma regularly plays is the Davidov Stradivarius on which du Pré also performed. Read the rest of this entry »


by Daniel Hathaway

Ma-at-Oberlin-112013-(Mastroianni)Not only did international superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma sell out Finney Chapel for his appearance on the Oberlin Artist Recital Series Wednesday evening, he packed them into Warner Concert Hall as well, where an overflow crowd witnessed his masterful recital via simulcast.

Ma, who last appeared at Oberlin before its current students were born*, put together an unusual but engaging program that reflected some of his wide-ranging musical tastes. He also managed to serve up dessert before the main course — who doesn’t like that to happen once in a while — and only one item on his playlist was originally written for the cello. I heard the recital in Finney Chapel.

Saving two substantial works for the second half, Ma and his superb, longtime and apparently clairvoyant collaborator, pianist Kathryn Stott, launched the evening with delightful readings of Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne, then a made-up suite of pieces by Villa-Lobos (Alma Brasileira), Piazzolla (Oblivion) and Camargo Guarnieri (Dansa Negra) arranged by Jorge Calandrelli (Villa-Lobos and Guarnieri) and Kyoko Yamamoto (Piazzolla), and finally, Manuel de Falla’s 7 Canciones Populares Españolas. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

MA-Yo-YoI can’t say that I don’t lead an interesting life,” cellist, humanitarian and Silk Road Project founder Yo-Yo Ma says with a laugh. “It’s sometimes a little crazy and when that happens I just need to look at myself and say, I am the one responsible for it and I can’t blame anybody but myself.”

On Wednesday, November 20 beginning at 8:00 pm in Finney Chapel, the Oberlin College Artist Recital Series presents Yo-Yo Ma and his long time collaborator, pianist Kathryn Stott, in a concert featuring the music of Stravinsky, Villa Lobos, Piazzolla, Guarnieri, de Falla, Messiaen and Brahms. The concert is sold out.

Yo-Yo Ma is a person who enjoys building relationships and finding common ground with everyone he meets, and it their mutual love of travel that he attributes to the long collaborative relationship he has enjoyed with Kathryn Stott. Ma and Stott have been sharing stages since 1985 and together won Grammy Awards in 1999 and 2004.

Kathy loves adventures and we get along famously well. She is an incredible person and musician and she probably loves traveling or has traveled more then I have,” Ma says. Read the rest of this entry »

by Nicholas Jones

Silk-Road-EnsembleThe Silk Road, the ancient trade route between China and the western world, was active for two millennia from before Alexander to the late Middle Ages. Across that highway traveled not only silks and spices but also inventions from gunpowder to printing and ideas from mathematics to Buddhism.

The Silk Road Ensemble, founded by American cellist Yo-Yo Ma over a decade ago, takes that East-West route as a metaphor for cultural exchange today, bringing western and non-western musicians into a vibrant, innovative, and deeply collaborative musical experience. The result is an evening of strange and wonderful sounds that might have delighted Marco Polo or Genghis Khan. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin


When cellistSilk-Road-Ensemble Yo-Yo Ma decided in 1998 to launch a collaborative enterprise to promote artistic exchanges between cultures, he named it The Silk Road Project after the 4,000-some miles of ancient trade routes that for two millennia linked parts of Asia with Europe and encouraged the trading of art, knowledge, philosophy and religion — as well as silk and other commercial goods.


Two years later, The Silk Road Project spawned The Silk Road Ensemble, a collective of some sixty performers and composers from more than twenty countries. Fifteen musicians from eight of those countries, including Yo-Yo Ma, are currently on tour to six cities in the United States, and will perform on the Tuesday Musical Association Series at E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron on Thursday, March 14 at 7:30 pm. We spoke with three of them, pipa (Chinese lute) player Yang Wei, violinist Johnny Gandelsman and gaita (Galician bagpipes) player Christina Pato (who will also play piano) to ask how they first became involved in the Silk Road Ensemble and to glean some of their insights into what makes it tick. Read the rest of this entry »

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Daniel Hathaway
founder & editor
Mike Telin
executive editor
Jarrett Hoffman
assistant to the editors

James Flood
J.D. Goddard
Jarrett Hoffman
Nicholas Jones
Timothy Robson
Robert & Gwyneth Rollin
Alexandra Vago
Tom Wachunas