Yo-Yo Ma

Cello

Schubert Club Performances:

  • October 2, 1983
  • March 16, 1986
  • December 3, 1988
  • December 3, 1992
  • May 4, 1997
  • October 12, 1999
  • November 9, 2007

Yo-Yo Ma

At “An American Pageant of the Arts” in November 1962, Leonard Bernstein introduced a seven-year-old cellist, the son of Chinese immigrants, to a Washington audience including Presidents Kennedy and Eisenhower as well as a TV audience watching nationwide:

Now, 60 years later, Yo-Yo Ma is virtually enshrined in the musicians’ pantheon. No other living cellist has explored the instrument’s standard repertoire more widely, commissioned as many new works from American composers, or undertaken such ambitious projects as Ma’s global journey presenting Bach’s six solo Suites in a single sitting and creating an ensemble of musicians from diverse countries linked historically via the Silk Road.

Perennially among the most popular Schubert Club artists, Yo-Yo Ma has offered St. Paul audiences a generous display of his musical versatility. In his first and third appearances, he programmed Schubert’s “Arpeggione” Sonata. He is seen here performing it with pianist Rudolf Firkušny in Tokyo in 1992:

Brahms featured in four of his Schubert Club recitals. In this 1985 film, he plays the First Cello Sonata, again in Tokyo, this time with regular collaborator Emanuel Ax, himself a veteran of three Schubert Club appearances:

“Ma is the perpetual prodigy,” declared a writer in Gramophone magazine, “not just because he displayed an eerie technical mastery and musical maturity at an early age, but because he still plays with the intensity and abandon of a young man new to his powers.” Witness this excerpt from the Elgar Cello Concerto, taken from a 1997 Carnegie Hall concert with Daniel Barenboim conducting the Chicago Symphony:

“Bach’s cello suites have been my constant musical companions,” wrote Yo-Yo Ma recently in connection with his “Bach Project”. “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?” At the 2015 BBC Prom’s at London’s Albert Hall he played all six suites in one evening to a capacity audience of 6000. Here is Suite No. 1 from that concert:

About Mark O’Connor’s evocative Appalachia Waltz, the title track from Ma’s best-selling 1996 collaboration with violinist O’Connor and bassist Edgar Meyer, the cellist has said: “It’s traditional. It is new. It comes from many different places, but it’s authentic. After a long Bach evening, this is the perfect thing.” Here he plays Appalachia Waltz in Australia in 2019:

Artist note by Richard Evidon

From the Schubert Club Archive:

Newspaper clipping promoting Ma’s 1983 concert

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Program from Ma’s 1983 concert

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Ma greeting an audience member following his 1983 concert

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Review of Ma’s 1983 performance in the Minneapolis Star Tribune

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Review of Ma’s 1983 performance in the St. Paul Dispatch

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Signed photo of Ma, ca. 1983

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Ma featured on the official promotional poster for the 1988-89 International Artist Series

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Ma featured on a promotional page for the 1988-89 International Artist Series in the March 1988 issue of Minnesota Monthly

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Ma featured in the 1988-89 International Artist Series letter sent to subscribers

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Program from Ma’s 1988 concert

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Signed photo of Ma from 1988

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Review of Ma’s 1988 performance in the St. Paul Pioneer Press-Dispatch

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Signed photo of Ma from 1992

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Signed photo of Ma from 1997

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Ma returned to the Twin Cities in May 2001 to feature in a cello master class co-presented by Schubert Club

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