by Mike Telin
Available beginning today: Les Délices: Song of Orpheus, Hannah De Priest, soprano, Jonathan Woody, baritone, Shelby Yamin, violin, Debra Nagy, oboe, Rebecca Reed, gamba & cello & Mark Edwards, harpsichord. Woody and De Priest recount the story of Orpheus’ descent to the underworld, his charming of Hades, and his attempt to bring Eurydice back to the land of the living in rarely-heard cantatas by Jean-Philippe Rameau and Philippe Courbois. By Much Love Betray’d, a new instrumental work by Woody, reimagines the powerful magic of Orpheus’ lyre. Online only, available for 30 days after premiere. Click here for tickets, here for an interview with Woody, and here for an advance review.
At 7:00 pm, Birch Browning leads the CSU Symphonic Wind Ensemble in concert in Waetjen Auditorium at Cleveland State University, 2100 Euclid Ave. Free.
At 7:30 pm David Ellis leads the Case Camerata Chamber Orchestra in J.S. Bach’s Contrapuncti 1, 3, 5 & 11 (Art of Fugue) & Grieg’s Holberg Suite. Maltz Performing Arts Center, 1855 Ansel Road in University Circle, Cleveland. Tickets available online.
Today we celebrate cellist, cultural ambassador, and humanitarian Yo-Yo Ma (pictured above), born on this date in 1955 in Paris. Since his days as a child prodigy, Ma has carved out a remarkably diverse career — one need to look no further than his expansive discography to understand why he is a household name around the world.
Ma is a person who enjoys building relationships and finding common ground with everyone he meets. Perhaps his best-known example of using music to find that common ground is The Silk Road Project, a collaborative enterprise to promote artistic exchanges between cultures, named after the 4,000-some miles of ancient trade routes that for two millennia linked parts of Asia with Europe and encouraged the trading of art, knowledge, philosophy and religion — as well as silk and other commercial goods.
Without a doubt, Ma is committed to bringing people together through music. In a 2013 interview with this publication, Ma said, “I do believe totally in what I’m trying to do, and I feel incredibly grateful — especially during these hard economic times. The world is changing so quickly and there are people left out. But we want to make sure that while things are changing, we have a sense of where we are going that we can all mutually work towards.”
He went on to say that culture and the arts are effective because as artists you are always working toward something bigger than yourself. “It’s not just about interest groups but rather that we have common interests. And sometimes the common interests get lost when we’re only saying ‘wait, you’ve got to look at me.’”
The cellist is also a firm believer in the power of education. In a 2013 interview prior to Silk Road’s appearance in Akron, Galician bagpipes player Christina Pato pointed out that the importance of education is very strong and the ensemble is constantly scheduling educational activities. “Watching Yo-Yo work has been an inspiration to all of us. He is constantly there worrying about everything,” Pato says. “Even in the middle of a long tour, he arrives at schools at 9 am to make things happen. He works with all the children and brings joy and happiness. It’s great to have a mentor like him.”
By his own admission, Yo-Yo Ma is a person who enjoys being busy. “I can’t say that I don’t lead an interesting life,” he told ClevelandClassical.com in 2013. “It’s sometimes a little crazy and when that happens I just need to look at myself and say, I am the one responsible for it and I can’t blame anybody but myself.”
In 2020 Ma, along with Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile released their collaborative album Not Our First Goat Rodeo. The group also made a fun video for NPR’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts. His latest album, Notes for the Future, was released on September 10, 2021 on Sony Classical. And this past Tuesday, Ma, along with storyteller, narrator, and librettist Charlotte Blake Alston, performed at the season opening concert of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Read Peter Dobrin’s review here.
Happy Birthday Yo-Yo Ma!