The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma

The Granada Theatre Sunday, February 21, 2016 7:00 PM

Yo-Yo Ma is a French-born cellist and child prodigy who began performing in New York City at the age of five! Two years later, when he was 7 years old, he performed for Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy. He studied at The Juilliard School and graduated from Harvard in 1976. Ma has enjoyed a prolific career as both a soloist performing with orchestras around the world and a recording artist.

Ma’s signature performance instrument is a Montagnana cello that was built in 1733 and is valued at $2.5 million dollars. Montagnana cellos are highly sought after by orchestras, notable musicians, and collectors, and they form a part of museum collections around the world.

In 1998, inspired by his curiosity about the world, and his eagerness to forge connections across cultures, disciplines, and generations, Ma founded the nonprofit organization the Silk Road Project Inc. He believed that exploring our differences enriches our humanity. The Silk Road Project strives to create meaningful change at the intersection of the arts, education, and business…to spark new ways of looking at the world. 

Yo-Yo Ma believes that, “A new way of thinking is possible; a new consciousness – perhaps a new enlightenment – that brings the Arts and Science back together.”

In order to foster this vision, the Silk Road Ensemble is not a fixed group of musicians. It is a loose collective of as many as 59 musicians, composers, arrangers, visual artists and storytellers from European and Asian cultures. New works from across a broad musical spectrum are regularly commissioned by the Ensemble, and it is known for its interdisciplinary festivals and residencies presented in North America, Europe, and Asia. The Ensemble has performed in many locations along the historic Silk Road, including Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, India, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan.

The success of Y0-Yo Ma’s Silk Road vision is beautifully reflected in this glowing review by John von Rhein, chicagotribune.com:

If only the spirit of artistic sharing and peaceful coexistence the Silk Road Ensemble radiates so beautifully through its playing were somehow to permeate the trouble spots of today's world, what a different, and better, planet it would be.”