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Yo Yo Ma

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  • Yo Yo Ma

    Yo Yo Ma is an exclusive Sony Classical artist, and his discography of over 50 albums - which have won him 15 Grammy Awards - reflects his wide-ranging interests. His latest recording is Vivaldi's Cello, which features his first recordings of concertos and new transcriptions of the music of Antonio Vivaldi, with Ton Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, to be released in Spring 2004. In February, Ma was awarded his 15th Grammy for the best-selling 2003 release Obrigado Brazil. Winner of a pair of Grammys, including Best Classical Crossover Recording, Obrigado Brazil celebrates Brazilian music - from classical to bossa nova and samba - with Ma joined by a gallery of top Brazilian and Latin American musicians, including Sérgio and Odair Assad, Egberto Gismonti, Paquito D'Rivera and Cesar Camargo Mariano. The success of Obrigado Brazil resulted in the sequel recording Yo-Yo Ma Obrigado Brazil Live in Concert, recorded live in Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York and released in February. The cellist was rejoined here by many of the same musicians, playing largely new repertoire heard during their acclaimed international tour that followed the release of the original Obrigado Brazil recording. Also released in 2003, Paris - La Belle Epoque featured Ma playing French music for cello and piano, with pianist Kathryn Stott, including the cellist's own transcriptions of celebrated violin works by Fauré, Massenet and Saint-Saëns. In addition to the standard concerto repertoire, he has recorded many of the large body of works that he has commissioned or premiered. He has also made several successful recordings that defy categorization, among them Hush with Bobby McFerrin, Appalachia Waltz and Grammy-winner Appalachian Journey with Mark O'Connor and Edgar Meyer, and Piazzolla: Soul of the Tango. Ma's other recent Sony Classical releases include Silk Road Journeys: When Strangers Meet, Yo-Yo Ma Plays the Music of John Williams and Classic Yo-Yo. Across the full range of releases Ma remains one of the best-selling recording artists in the classical field.

    Yo-Yo Ma maintains a balance between his engagements as soloist with orchestras throughout the world and his recital and chamber music activities. He draws inspiration from a wide circle of collaborators, creating programs with such artists as Emanuel Ax, Daniel Barenboim, Christoph Eschenbach, Pamela Frank, Jeffrey Kahane, Kayhan Kalhor, Ton Koopman, Jaime Laredo, Bobby McFerrin, Edgar Meyer, Mark Morris, Mark O'Connor, the late Isaac Stern, Kathryn Stott, Wu Man, Wu Tong and David Zinman. Each of these collaborations is fueled by the artists' interactions, often extending the boundaries of a particular genre. One of Ma's goals is the exploration of music as a means of communication, and as a vehicle for the migrations of ideas, across a range of cultures throughout the world. To that end, he has taken time to immerse himself in subjects as diverse as native Chinese music with its distinctive instruments and the music of the Kalahari bush people in Africa.

    Taking this interest even further, Ma established the Silk Road Project to promote the study of the cultural, artistic and intellectual traditions along the ancient Silk Road trade route that stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. By examining the flow of ideas throughout this vast area, the Project seeks to illuminate the heritages of the Silk Road countries and identify the voices that represent these traditions today. The Silk Road Project acts as an umbrella organization and common resource for a range of cultural and educational programs, participating in more than a dozen festivals, including the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 2002. To learn more, visit the Silk Road Project website at

    Yo-Yo Ma is strongly committed to educational programs that not only bring young audiences into contact with music but also allow them to participate in its creation. While touring, he takes time whenever possible to conduct master classes as well as more informal programs for students-musicians and non-musicians alike.

    Yo-Yo Ma was born to Chinese parents living in Paris. He began to study the cello with his father at age 4 and soon came with his family to New York, where he spent most of his formative years. Later, his principal teacher was Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School. He sought out a traditional liberal arts education to expand upon his conservatory training, graduating from Harvard University in 1976. Ma and his wife have two children.

    He plays two instruments, a 1733 Montagnana cello from Venice and the 1712 Davidoff Stradivarius.

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