Yo-Yo Ma on getting through the pandemic with music and compassion

Posted on: November 25, 2020

“Yo-Yo Ma’s compelling instinct for compassion has been on much-needed display during this pandemic year,” writes David Marchese in Monday’s (11/23) New York Times. “In the spring, he streamed a performance series, ‘Songs of Comfort,’ on YouTube and social media. During the summer, he broadcast a performance of Bach’s Cello Suites in honor of those lost to Covid-19. And on Dec. 11, he will release ‘Songs of Comfort and Hope,’ an album recorded with the pianist Kathryn Stott. ‘People need each other for support beyond the immediate staples of life,’ Ma says. ‘They need music.’ ” In the article, Ma speaks about the intersection of music and politics, cultural appropriation, Bach’s Cello Suites, turning to music for solace, being a Chinese-American public figure during a time of rising racism in the United States, and making the listener the most important person in the room. Says Ma, “Unfortunately, during this time, we’ve lost a number of friends, and you have virtual memorial services and you play music for that. All of which is to say that you do whatever is needed with music. We need music to make us feel at equilibrium through hard times and good times.”