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A Yo-Yo Ma Friday: "Culture connects us"

“Show the world how you express yourself and what brings your community together.”

-- Yo-Yo Ma

For the month of May, in recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, our Friday posts will highlight the voices, words, and music from individuals who identify as Asian nationals, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Today we recognize Yo-Yo Ma. Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of his Carnegie Hall debut.

An impromptu concert:

After Yo-Yo Ma received his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, Mass., in mid-March, he showed his gratitude for the volunteers by performing an impromptu solo during his 15-minute observation period.

From The Washington Post:

Leslie Drager, the lead clinical manager for the vaccination site, said that when Ma started to play, the whole place went quiet.

“It was so weird how peaceful the whole building became, just having a little bit of music in the background,” said Drager, who is the lead public health nurse for Berkshire Public Health Alliance. “People are talking and moving, there are lots of volunteers, and everybody just went quiet and went to watch and listen,” Drager said.

Hilary Bashara, a nurse at the clinic, said she administered both of Ma’s doses. “[The music] just brought that whole room together,” Bashara said. “It was so healing.” read more

From Julie Phillips, Niskayuna:

When famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma and his team posed this encouraging statement, “Show the world how you express yourself and what brings your community together,” they received many responses. They put them together into a video that shows the musician playing Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 and then showcasing different scenes from a potter’s studio to an ice rink to a tailor’s shop and much more. It’s lovely.

“We live in a time that feels fractured, and Bach is a unifying factor,” Ma says. This video is a good reminder of that fact.

Songs of Comfort for India

Yo-Yo Ma posted a video on Twitter earlier this week, playing a “Sarabande” from Bach’s suite as part of his Songs of Comfort initiative for India while the country confronts a dreadful second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He began the video series last year to offer comfort to a global audience amid the pandemic that has caused widespread anxiety and pain.


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We hope you enjoy today's musical interlude. Be well.


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