Yo-Yo Ma’s Days of Action "On a sprawling tour, Ma meets with artists, students, and activists, exploring culture’s contribution to social progress and deepening his mastery of Bach."
“It’s the tenacity or the will power or the stubbornness or the dog-with-a-bone aspect. You’re looking for something and you’re going to pursue it to the end of the earth, no matter what it takes.”
By Alex Ross: The New Yorker, December 17, 2018
"The cyclone of exuberance that is Yo-Yo Ma tore through the Washington, D.C., area at the end of November. The cellist is in the middle of a sprawling tour called the Bach Project, which involves performances of Bach’s six solo-cello suites in thirty-six places, on six continents. Classical music has taken to attaching the word “project” to undertakings large and small. If two or more Brahms symphonies are played, it becomes a Brahms Project. The Bach Project, though, is deserving of the name. Most of Ma’s concerts are slated for large spaces capable of accommodating thousands. Each is accompanied by a Day of Action, in which Ma meets with local artists, community leaders, students, and activists, exploring how culture can contribute to social progress. In Washington, the venue was the National Cathedral. The Day of Action took place in Anacostia, the historic African-American neighborhood in southeast D.C."
This is a much longer piece, the link is above, and I suggest reading it all.
I met Yo Yo Ma once. I was having an exihibit at the St. Botolph Club in Boston when Mr. Ma, also a member, was hosting a private party in one of the function rooms. As I was standing by the entrance door with Susan I saw Mr. Ma approaching and I said to myself "you are not getting by me without our meeting." And so we did. It was inconsequential to him I am certain, but not so for me.
Yo Yo Ma represents something at one end of humanity. Life to the nth power, expressed through his personality and his playing. I later heard a short private performance two doors away at the Algonquin Club for that club's members as well as those of us from the St. Botolph Club. When the performance was announced, reservations began via e-mail one day at 10:00 a.m. By less than 10:02 the performance was sold out. However, I did squeeze in.
If you know classical music well, I don't have to say anything further. If you do not, I suggest a dozen or so listens for the cello suites of Bach for it may take some time to grow on you. Music changes brains physically and it took a number of years for this music to do its work on mine. However, if one were to be asked to choose among the great classical performers of all time, Mr. Ma might well be at the top of the list.