Yo-Yo Ma (born October 7, 1955) the world famous an American cellist, Born in Paris to Chinese parents and educated in New York City, Ma was a child prodigy, performing from the age of four and a half. He graduated from The Juilliard School and Harvard University, and has performed as a soloist with orchestras around the world. He has recorded more than 90 albums and received 18 Grammy Awards.
In addition to recordings of the standard classical repertoire, he has recorded a wide variety of folk music, such as American bluegrass music, traditional Chinese melodies, the tangos of Argentinian composer Ástor Piazzolla, and Brazilian music. He has collaborated with artists including jazz singer Bobby McFerrin, guitarist Carlos Santana, Sérgio Assad and his brother, Odair, and singer-songwriter and guitarist James Taylor. Ma’s primary performance instrument is a Montagnana cello crafted in 1733 and valued at US$2.5 million.
He has been a United Nations Messenger of Peace since 2006. He was awarded The Glenn Gould Prize in 1999, the National Medal of Arts in 2001, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, and the Polar Music Prize in 2012.
Ma is included in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020.
Ma performs at the White House for American president Ronald Reagan, Crown Princess Michiko and Crown Prince Akihito of Japan, and Nancy Reagan, October 1987
In 1997, he was featured on John Williams’ soundtrack to the Hollywood film Seven Years in Tibet. In 2000, he was heard on the soundtrack of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and on that of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World in 2003. He collaborated with Williams again on the original score for the 2005 film Memoirs of a Geisha. Ma has also worked with Italian composer Ennio Morricone and has recorded Morricone’s compositions of the Dollars Trilogy, including The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, as well as Once Upon a Time in America, The Mission, and The Untouchables. He also has over 90 albums, 18 of which are Grammy Award winners. Ma is a recipient of the International Center in New York’s Award of Excellence.
In addition to his prolific musical career, Ma collaborated in 1999 with landscape architects to design a Bach-inspired garden. This space, known as the Music Garden, interprets Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G Major for unaccompanied cello – BWV 1007, constructing each section in the garden to fit the dance movements within the suite. Toronto enthusiastically embraced the design, originally planned for Boston, and it was subsequently built in the Harbourfront (Toronto) neighborhood.
Ma was named Peace Ambassador by then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in January 2006. He is a founding member of the influential Chinese-American Committee of 100, which addresses the concerns of Americans of Chinese heritage.
On November 3, 2009, President Obama appointed Ma to serve on the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. His music was featured in the 2010 documentary Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story, narrated by Academy Award winner Dustin Hoffman. In 2010, President Obama announced that he would be recognizing Ma with the Presidential Medal of Freedom; Ma was presented with the award at the ceremonies in February 2011.
In 2010, Ma was named Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In partnership with the orchestra’s music director, Riccardo Muti, he launched the Citizen Musician initiative. Yo-Yo Ma is represented by the independent artist management firm Opus 3 Artists. Also in 2010, he appeared on a solo album by guitarist Carlos Santana, Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time, playing alongside Santana and singer India Arie on a Beatles classic, While My Guitar Gently Weeps.
In 2015, Ma performed alongside singer-songwriter and guitarist James Taylor for two separate tracks on Taylor’s chart-topping record Before This World: You And I Again, in addition to the title track.
In 2019, Ma directed at the annual Youth Music Culture Guangdong.
Silk Road Ensemble
Main article: Silkroad (arts organization)
Ma formed his own collective, the Silk Road Ensemble, named after the route across Asia which for more than 2,000 years was used for trade between Europe and China. His goal was to bring together musicians from diverse countries that were historically linked via the Silk Road. His records with the ensemble were on the Sony Classical label. He also founded the Silk Road Connect, an educational pilot program for children from middle schools in the United States, including New York City.