Yo Yo Ma
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Yo Yo Ma Biography
For his latest album, Songs of Joy & Peace, the multiple Grammy winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma invited many of his favorite artists from the worlds of popular and classical music to collaborate on a selection of songs -- some sacred, some secular, some traditionally seasonal, some simply beloved -- connected in their sense of wonder and appreciation of the holiday season. Yo-Yo Ma conceived of Songs of Joy & Peace as a universal holiday house party of music uniting different forms of joy with the idea of combining familiar material with songs that would offer the listener the gift of discovery performed by old friends and new. Songs of Joy & Peace celebrates the universal hopes, dreams and good cheer animating seasonal festivals -- Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid, Kwanzaa, Yuletide, Winter Solstice, New Year's, Ramadan -- the world over.
Celebrating his 30th anniversary with Sony Classical and Sony Masterworks, Yo-Yo Ma is an exclusive Sony Classical artist, and his discography of over 75 albums (including 15 Grammy Award winners) reflects his wide-ranging interests. He has made several successful recordings that defy categorization, among them Hush with Bobby McFerrin, Appalachia Waltz and Appalachian Journey with Mark O'Connor and Edgar Meyer and two Grammy winning tributes to the music of Brazil, Obrigado Brazil and Obrigado Brazil - Live in Concert. Yo-Yo Ma's most recent recordings include Paris: La Belle Époque, with pianist Kathryn Stott, Appassionato, which contains some of the world most romantic music and New Impossibilities, a live album recorded with the Silk Road Ensemble and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; he also appears on John Williams's soundtrack for Rob Marshall's film Memoirs of a Geisha. Across this full range of releases, Yo-Yo Ma remains one of the best-selling recording artists in the classical field. All of his recent albums have quickly entered the Billboard chart of classical best sellers, remaining in the Top 15 for extended periods, often with as many as four titles simultaneously on the list.
Yo-Yo Ma is strongly committed to educational programs that not only bring young audiences into contact with music but also allow them to participate in its creation. While touring, he takes time whenever possible to conduct master classes as well as more informal programs for students - musicians and non-musicians alike. At the same time he continues to develop new concert programs for family audiences (helping, for instance, to inaugurate the family series at Carnegie Hall). In each of these undertakings, he works to connect music to students' daily surroundings and activities with the goal of making music and creativity a vital part of children's lives from an early age. He has also reached young audiences through appearances on Arthur, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and Sesame Street.
Yo-Yo Ma was born in 1955 to Chinese parents living in Paris. He began to study the cello with his father at age four and soon came with his family to New York, where he spent most of his formative years. Later, his principal teacher was Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School. He sought out a traditional liberal arts education to expand upon his conservatory training, graduating from Harvard University in 1976. He has received numerous awards, including the Avery Fisher Prize (1978), the Glenn Gould Prize (1999), the National Medal of the Arts (2001), the Dan David Prize (2006), the Sonning Prize (2006), and the World Economic Forum Crystal Award (2008). Appointed a CultureConnect Ambassador by the United States Department of State in 2002, Yo-Yo Ma has met with, trained and mentored thousands of students worldwide including Lithuania, Korea, Lebanon, Azerbaijan and China. He has performed with and conducted master classes for members of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra. In 2006, Secretary General Kofi Annan named him a U.N. Messenger of Peace and in 2007 Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon extended his appointment.