July 7 ~  Things That Fuel This Passion Inspired By Bach

"There is a big world out there, and when I find out people's histories, personal stories, both in the present and the past, I feel the need to be able to put that in a sound world, in musical form, and to advocate for those voices. That, and what my family has taught me, are the two things that fuel this passion." ~ Yo-Yo Ma

A passionate musical link between East and West, renowned concert cellist Yo-Yo Ma (1955-) was born in Paris, France to Chinese parents. A child prodigy, by age five he could play three Bach cello suites by heart and studied with Leonard Rose at Julliard.

"Bach takes you to a very quiet place within yourself, to the inner core, a place where you are calm and at peace," Ma explained.

The remarkable Yo-Yo Ma was selected as the sole winner of the Avery Fisher Prize in 1978. With over 75 albums and several Grammy Awards, he continues to explore an assortment of musical styles and play effortlessly, with performances that celebrate the heart with an almost jazz-like spontaneity.

"I think of a piece of music as something that comes alive when it is being performed, and I feel that my role in the transmission of music is to be its best advocate at that moment," he explained.

In 2001, the artist launched the Silk Road Project to promote the study of the cultural, artistic, and intellectual traditions along Marco Polo's ancient trade route from Asia to Europe. With this cross-pollination of ideas, Ma hopes to create a global network of sharing and communicate something vital with music.

"The more I learn about music, the more I realize that music has always wandered across national boundaries." Ma said.

"Everytime I open a newspaper, I am reminded that we live in a world where we can no longer afford not to know our neighbors. Silk Road Project is a musical way to get to know our neighbors."

Music connects the past with the present.