Yo-Yo Ma on connecting through music during pandemic

Posted on: August 19, 2020

As part of his series of Instagram interviews during the COVID-19 pandemic, Geoff Edgers spoke with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, excerpted in Friday’s (8/14) Washington Post. “Q: How have you dealt with the fact that you can’t be performing normally this summer? Yo-Yo Ma: During [the coronavirus] … you can’t touch, you can’t hug, you can’t shake hands. But what music does, its sound moves air molecules. So when air floats across your skin and touches the hairs of your skin, that’s touch. That’s the closest thing to someone actually touching you. Q: In July, you and pianist Emanuel Ax recorded a virtual program at Tanglewood. What was that like? Ma: We were sitting socially distanced…. One piece on the program [was Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 3 in A, Op. 69]…. Manny found out [that] Beethoven wrote something in Latin—something like ‘out of the depths of despair.’ So imagine Beethoven out of the depths of despair writing this most uplifting, outstanding piece of music. I think it is something we deserve, while we’re going through this trifecta of crises—pandemic, racial inequity, economic crisis—that somehow we can actually still come together in whatever way that we can and feel this music.”