Über Yo-Yo Ma
The prolific and prodigiously talented cellist Yo-Yo Ma is as at home with Brahms and Bach as he is with Astor Piazzolla or Antonio Carlos Jobim. Like many virtuosos, Ma took up the cello early: his father started him at age four. Decades and several degrees later (he was a star pupil at Juilliard and later graduated from Harvard), Ma is the face of classical music around the world. Everyone knows the ubiquitous cello player with the improbable, happy-go-lucky name. He has taken the cello from its classical confines and forced it into places it's never been before. Cello in bluegrass? Middle Eastern music? Tango? Bossa nova? No style is too "out there" for Ma, and as a result he's become a musical ambassador, finding commonalities between disparate musical traditions and introducing an uncurious world to the world's many musical curiosities. This is perhaps what led him to found the Silk Road Ensemble in 1998, an East-meets-West cross-cultural music collective. Cultural heritage has increasingly become his interest, as evidenced by his recent solo and Ensemble recordings: Appalachian Journey, 2002's Silk Road Journeys and 2003's Obrigado Brasil.