Athens is but one of 36 cities in Yo-Yo Ma’s Bach Project world tour. The internationally acclaimed cellist will perform The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites at the Odeon for a single spellbinding evening on 30 June, marking his first appearance in Greece. Why is this concert one of the unmissable music events of the summer? Read here everything you should know about Yo-Yo Ma, and his rich body of work as an artist and an activist.
- The Paris-born, Chinese-American cellist Yo-Yo Ma was a child music prodigy. He began playing the violin at the age of 4 and first performed before an audience at the age of 5. When he was 7 years old, he performed in front of US presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy. He made his first television appearance at the age of 8, in a concert conducted by Leonard Bernstein.
- Yo-Yo Ma has performed a wide range of compositions, from classical pieces to Astor Piazzola to traditional Chinese and Brazilian music. He has a large fanbase around the world, has recorded over 90 albums, has won 18 Grammy Awards and been nominated another 27.
- In 1998, he launched the Silk Project, promoting collaboration, artistic exchange and the free flow of ideas across artists and organizations from around the world. In turn, this project led to Silk Road Ensemble, a music collective comprised of 59 musicians from around the world, who have been steadily recording since 2001.
- In 2009, the US president Barrack Obama appointed Yo-Yo Ma to serve on the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. In 2011, Yo-Yo Ma was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He has won numerous other distinctions, including the National Medal of Arts (2001) and the Polar Award (2012), to name a few.
- Yo-Yo Ma has participated in the soundtracks of many popular films, including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Seven Years in Tibet, Memoirs of a Geisha, Once Upon a Time in America, The Mission and The Untouchables.
- In 2010, he collaborated with Carlos Santana in the latter’s album Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time and was joined by singer India Arie in the cover of the Beatles song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Audiences have often had the opportunity to enjoy Yo-Yo Ma performing together with contemporary musicians. Over the years he has worked with Pixinguinha, Phillip Glass, Bobby McFerrin, and numerous others.
- He is a founding member of the Chinese-American Committee 100, which addresses the concerns of Chinese-American citizens.
- Bach Project was launched in August 2018 and in has been presented in 36 locations around the world, including iconic venues such as the St. Nicholas Church in Leipzig, the Washington National Cathedral and the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. The Bach Project concerts always come with a Day of Action, where participants explore how art brings people together and showcases their finest aspects through discussions, artistic meetings and other social events. The Athens Day of Events will be held on 29 June. More information to be announced.
- Yo-Yo Ma has a soft spot for Bach. The composer’s work has defined his life and career: Bach’s cello suites have been my constant musical companions. For almost six decades, they have given me sustenance, comfort, and joy during times of stress, celebration, and loss. What power does this music possess that even today, after three hundred years, it continues to help us navigate through troubled times? And why am I sharing it with you, today?
- In August 2018, Yo-Yo Ma performed at the aptly titled Tiny Desk Contest of ΝPR Music, a concert series taking place inside the tiny NPR music offices, where diverse music genres are explored and audiences come in closer contact with artists. It was during this concert that Yo-Yo Ma recounted to the audience how he performed Bach’s Suite No 1 at the age of 4 – the very first composition he performed in his life – and how Bach’s music has been his lifelong companion. Watch his performance at the NPR Tiny Desk:
Yo-Yo will perform Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G major, Suite No. 2 in D minor, Suite No. 3 in C major, Suite No. 4 in E flat major, Suite No. 5 in C minor, Suite No. 6 in D major