Yo-Yo Ma is a French-born American cellist who is noted for his remarkable skill and rich tone. He was born on October 7, 1955, in Paris, France. His extensive collaborations with musicians and artists from other genres, cultures, and mediums re-energized classical music and broadened its audience.
Ma was born in a Chinese family. He delivered his first public performance at the age of five and then relocated to New York City with his family, making his Carnegie Hall debut at the age of nine. He studied at the Juilliard School under Leonard Rose and János Scholz before earning a bachelor’s degree in humanities from Harvard University in 1977. In 1978, he was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize, and Harvard gave him an honorary doctorate in music in 1991.
Yo-Yo Ma His Biography, Net Worth and Career
Ma became well-known for his conventional cello repertoire performances and recordings, as well as an extremely high number of commissions from contemporary composers. He played regularly in a trio with pianist Emanuel Ax and violinist Young-Uck Kim, as well as in a quartet with Ax and violinists Isaac Stern and Jaime Laredo. Ma and Ax were praised for their performances of Ludwig van Beethoven’s sonatas (1985) and Johannes Brahms’ sonatas (1986). (1991). The six suites for solo cello by Johann Sebastian Bach piqued Ma’s attention, since they were among the first pieces of music he learnt to play as a child. In 1983 and 1998, he recorded the suites twice. A series of six films interpreting Bach’s suites accompanied the latter release; Ma cooperated on the project with artists from a variety of disciplines, including dance, landscape design, ice skating, film directing, and Kabuki theatre. In 2018, Ma re-recorded the suites and embarked on a globe tour. Ma held a “day of action” at each location, when he met with local activists, artists, community leaders, and students to discuss the influence of culture. He performed the six suites in a live broadcast in 2020 to pay tribute to those who had perished from COVID-19. During the COVID-19 epidemic, he performed on social media and encouraged others to join him using the hashtag #SongsOfComfort, which resulted to the release of Songs of Comfort and Hope (2020).
In addition to his standard repertoire, Ma recorded Hush (1992) with improvisational vocalist Bobby McFerrin and Appalachia Waltz (1996) and Appalachian Journey (1997) with bluegrass musicians (2000). He recorded Astor Piazzolla’s tangos on Soul of the Tango (1997). He also contributed to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), the sound track for the film of the same name, and Obrigado Brazil in 2003, a collaboration with Latin American artists. In 2011, The Goat Rodeo Sessions, a joint effort with progressive bluegrass players, was widely lauded. Not Our First Goat Rodeo, the group’s second album, was released in 2020.
Ma launched the Silk Road Project in 1998 as an arts group dedicated to investigating the cultural traditions of the Silk Road, a historic trade route that connected China and the West. He founded the Silk Road Ensemble shortly after, and the group’s debut album, Silk Road Journeys: When Strangers Meet, was published in 2002. The project’s scope was later broadened, with the Silk Road serving as a metaphor for uniting creative endeavors across cultures and throughout the globe. New Impossibilities (2007), with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Off the Map (2009), a compilation of new compositions by an internationally diversified group of composers; and Sing Me Home (2010) were among the ensemble’s subsequent albums (2016).
Ma was a prolific artist who released over a dozen albums and won over 15 Grammy Awards. He was also the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first-ever creative consultant (2010–19). Ma has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2010), a Kennedy Center Honor (2011), and the Praemium Imperiale (2021) from the Japan Art Association for music.
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