Yo-Yo Ma is a cellist and one of the world's most high-profile classical musicians. He has performed for eight US Presidents, appeared in concert halls across the globe and reached new audiences through film soundtracks and TV shows including The Simpsons and Sesame Street. Yo-Yo Ma was born in Paris in 1955. His Chinese-born parents were both musicians and his father was his first cello teacher. The family moved to the USA when Yo-Yo was seven, and a noted child prodigy, playing for John F Kennedy and Leonard Bernstein. He went on to study at the Juilliard School in New York and at Harvard University. He has recorded more than 100 albums, and his many Grammy awards reveal the range of his musical interests. Along with prize-winning concerto and chamber music discs, and an acclaimed recording of Bach's Suites from unaccompanied cello, he's won awards for folk and tango albums. He is also the driving force behind the Silk Road Ensemble, creating music inspired by the cultures found along the historic trade route linking China and the West. His high-profile appearances in America include the first performance on the site of the World Trade Centre, a year after the 9/11 attacks, and contributions to the inaugurations of Presidents Obama and Biden. A more recent informal solo performance took place at his local Covid vaccination centre in Massachusetts. Yo-Yo Ma has been married to Jill Hornor for more than 40 years, and they have two children. DISC ONE: Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen DISC TWO: Erbame Dich composed by J.S Bach, conducted by Ton Koopman, performed by Kai Wessel (alto vocals), accompanied by Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra DISC THREE: Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15: Maestoso, composed by Johannes Brahms, conducted by George Szell, performed by The Cleveland Orchestra DISC FOUR: Elgar: 1st movement Cello Concerto in E Minor, Op 85, composed by Edward Elgar, conducted by Jacqueline du Pré (cello) and London Symphony Orchestra DISC FIVE: Tin Tin Deo (Live) by The Oscar Peterson Trio DISC SIX: M4 Lieder, Op.27: Morgen! Composed by Richard Strauss, performed by Janet Baker (mezzo-soprano) and Gerald Moore (piano) DISC SEVEN: Podmoskovnye Vechera - Moscow Nights, composed by Vasily Solovyov-Sedoi, conducted by Constantine Orbelian and performed by Dimitri Hvorostovsky (baritone) and Moscow Chamber Orchestra DISC EIGHT: Schubert- Piano Trio #2 In E Flat, Op. 100, D 929 - 4. Allegro Moderato, composed by Franz Schubert, performed by Alexander Schneider (violin) and Mieczysław Horszowski (piano) BOOK CHOICE: Encyclopedia Britannica LUXURY ITEM: A Swiss Army knife CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Schubert- Piano Trio #2 In E Flat, Op. 100, D 929 - 4. Allegro Moderato, composed by Franz Schubert, performed by Alexander Schneider (violin) and Mieczysław Horszowski (piano) Presenter Lauren Laverne Producer Sarah Taylor
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Previously sounds music radio broadcasts, hallo unlearn event, and this is the desert island discs. Podcast. Every week I ask my guest to choose the eight tracks book and luxury they want to take with them if they were cast away to a desert island for rights reasons. The music is shorter. the original broadcast. I hope you enjoy listening my castaway this week is the cellist. You mom, he is America's favorite classical musician, born in paris to chinese parents. He arrived in new york as a child prodigy and as rapporteur
did the usa on the world stage ever since, when moments of collective significance arise, he is entrusted to articulate them he's performed for eight president, and was the first position to play on the world trade center site one year after the two thousand and one attacks is recordings of bar beethoven and Brahms of one numerous grammy abodes, and he believes that music can precipitate change and forge new connections. His many globe, trust collaboration have taken in sound tracks with angrily and annual marconi, along with adventures, television with assessing street cast on the simpsons on his ass to a he played for italian health workers at the u S, mexican border and in a bay rude techno club recently he's been asking a new question: welcome music for people in upon damage is online. Constant series, songs of comfort clocked up over seventeen million views, perhaps unsurprisingly, when he was called up to receive his vaccination. He took his cello.
To treating everyone waiting in line to an impromptu performance. He says it's hard to define music because its ephemeral, but its effect is always about something bigger than yourself, yo yo. My welcome to desert island discs, ferguson retorted such a pleasure to be with you, listen, is, can actually check out your performance local vaccine centre online. It was filled with while you were there were with you cello. Obviously you wearing your face mosque too, so I wonder how quickly people realised it was you some people dead and some people didn't
Someone asked me on my way out to play with an orchestra like the bosnia's advance it yes, sometimes I do, and maybe the best visual that I had was that there was in an older gentlemen who actually start here music, and then he pulled up a chair as pulses in our he could within the social distancing and just sat there and listened the whole time as if this was something he really need it at and for me, that's the essence of doing music at all is that you just go where the need is it's a form of a few
full of food, maybe not in the material, physical sense, but certainly in the ephemeral spiritual sets. Absolutely it's such a wonderful and as slightly incongruous moments in that local hold with such beautiful music, and we must get onto your first peace now to take with you to the desert island. What is it and why we chose today our duly departed Leonard Cohen, there's something jordan area about his voice. He sounds like the monk that he kind of wanted to be, but in musical form the performer in and in some ways he's a reluctant performer did not take easily to the stage and yet what he is saying about was the troubles and the sticky wickets that all of us go through life and the fact that he is able to put them out.
table and still seeing the song. Algeria is something that I think we all can relate to and feel that yeah he's one of us. We get it gets it. He gets us leonard When and how are you you ve performed that track your mind, the subway in montreal, I believe I did were so much fun so
of course, known for taking your music all around the world to some really incredible locations in your actually in the middle of a global. To performing box cello sweets when the pandemic happened, and I know that you ve been in that connection. Music throughout your life does sixty five year old, yoyo approach them differently from twenty five year old yoyo. Let's go this way are still trying to get it right. It depends what you think right is right. So in a humorous way, I'm sorry but in a deeper sense, with every stage in life. There are certain truths that we encounter and with each time of exploited, it's been through a different lens. The present lens is about actually saying simply. This is what I do,
This is very meaningful to me and if I am a visitor to community, that's what I can offer. Let's talk, I think, in music music, and especially for me in the cello sweets, but in general I think there is a balance between absolute compassion for what humans feel, what you feel he
I understand that balanced with the fact that he is also objective and in listening to his music. One feels that balance when feels that you're both understood, but that also your part of something bigger that can look at what you are with a certain kind of perspective and clarity. That approach is very healing. We need both and to have that in one person in musical form is kind of a special treat it's time for a second disk helium, vetoes and it's cold air, burma dish the first time I heard it I just wept, do have experiencing you. You see something that's so beautiful, so glorious and it's not because of sadness or tragedy but something that is just so
store, marry you brought to tears could be a landscape, could be something and that's what it did to me, and I think everything I said, sort of bath understanding how you feel. For me. This is like the moment where you hear this music at a here. He is completely enveloping and receptive and cuddling and cradling all of the human condition, all of whom we are as just devastating. I brought you to use every time I hear
anybody from the box said: matthew, passion performed, by car vessel with the amsterdam barrack orchestra conducted by tone copeman so yoyo mile your parents were both musicians born in China. They sat upon in france before eventually settling in the states. How did they come to leave china? My father was born in nineteen. Eleven was twenty five when he left chinese graduate from university. It had teachers who studied in france in art and music and country too
parents wanted him to do, and I think the compromise that they made was that if he went he had to go get a further degree, so he ended up getting phd in musicology at the cell bun and ended up staying in france for twenty seven years. So this is one thousand nine hundred and thirty six, and so about this. My father therefore wise in china, during the japanese
location of china's help. You have the beginnings of a zero point two and then he was in paris during the nazi invasion of paris. So he got treat you no experience, wwii from two different parts of the world. My mother, I was twelve years younger. She had a beautiful voice, she was talented, musically, talented and she went in nineteen. Forty nine. There was the japanese invasion. Then there was the civil war, and so she experienced that and at the last moment and forty nine she left to go to paris to pursue her vocal studies and of course they got married. My sister came along, and I came along
and then, when we the reason we move to the states. That's a funny immigrant story, because my parents, who had no money at all, manage to scrounge up the funds. We did it across the country, train trip and visited relatives in different places. My sister was very talented. Violence played with the denver symphony orchestra and the two of us gave one little concert in new york just before we left and a lady who had found at a school was looking for music teacher had heard about this doctor ma with good pedagogue and came to the concert, invited him to come. Teach at school and had that meeting that happened, I would have gone up in paris, your father, you described him as a born and pedagogue. I think a born teacher and, of course, with your first music tee. The two. What was his teaching style here is not the cuddly type
He very analytical. He had really great methodology. So the way that he taught me allowed me to become extremely efficient in practising you know. He was very severe. I had to tell your parents, immigrant energy, he asked you got to succeed. You got to do what you got to do it. I always thought the room where I went to practice and do calligraphy and learn french into your training. That room was so full of work. Now I did the tribute to the scituate father, but it was the place, the place of work, and but we were home schooled until
I came to the states in second grade, as you mentioned, yo yo yo, older sister, is also very musical. She plays the piano and violence in this a gorgeous video clip of you both performing for President Kennedy, you just seven years old at the time and it recently moved from paris to the states. What do you remember about that performance? I knew that were doing something big and there were important people there, but what we don't in the club, but I have a photo of waste that there was an m c that evening and he was lenin Bernstein, who is largely hidden conduct but, and there was a conductor and the conductor was Danny K and danny kay the actor comedian. The enormously talented person conducted an did. Such
many things with europe has made them sit down, made them saying, made the audience single bit all these things that I was mesmerized by it. I didn't leave the events say I want to be president. I left even thinking I wanna be danny. K leaky. Tell us about your next desk. I was introduced to the bronze first concerto widely on flight. Sure and the cleveland orchestrion towards l conducting. For me, the music of bribes implies a humanistic struggle. It's the second theme that just caught me because Canada has two hands and of different voices and to hear how, with his two hands his able to actually create a struggle.
rhythmic struggle, tugging gets, you know it in rock music or in getting the groove which side of the groove are. You are you know, and this sort of like a larger version of groove, but it's like the swaying of a boat in and but that you being tugged at either end by currents and you still trying to go forward its amazed,
positive first minted, brooms, piano, concerto number, one indeed minor, performed by Leon felicia and the cleveland orchestra conducted by george, sell you, you you, met and performed for the famed cellist, pablo Ours is a young boy. What kind of impression did he make on you by the time he was in his eighties ip for him. I asked him to sign my autograph book any votes
in nice on it any set. My parents don't forget to go and play baseball, which is really a beautiful thing to say, and I think what he meant by that is make sure you don't spend all your time during music and soon after that I read someplace, and I heard him say it to that. He thought of himself as a human being, first as a musician second, and as a cellist. Third and coming from tiger parents that was literally music to my ears because as a hot yazzi, it's not all about our place and what I admired about it was that he actually lived his
valleys and what is living your valleys mean to you when you have giants like that or there so many giants. What can I do to help? What are we going through know? What are the factors in the world and most of us myself included, we feel like well, it's just me. I can't do anything, but actually I think just starting with the first steps getting to action to say: hey, I'm gonna just put on visas,
I'm gonna zoom into hospital rooms and pay for patients. Were you can't humans, visitors, family can't visit collapse, the music, that's energy or you join things. Your help out. You look for where the need is yoyo, it's time for a fourth disk today, one cannot be a cellist and not no appreciate and love jackie's contribution to the cello world, that's jaclyn, to pray. I first heard her l guard that you accorded when she was nineteen years old with sir John barbarously, and she was like a massive shooting star that just entered into our planet space because it was an explosive talent, the energy that you could hear from from the first moment of the algarve, Jackie just elevated and shot it into the consciousness of.
a much larger general public.
part of the first to movement of l, gus, cello concerto, performed by jacqueline to pray with the london symphony orchestra conducted by suggests barber Ali you went to yokes julia music school before going on to study at harvard yoyo more what kind of college student worthy. I wonder the idea of dorm life living with you know, fellows didn't send and was just so appealing that was my escape from home. I gotta do that's really got to do. This was a good student, not what I loved was the chance to explore anything that was
Anyway, interested it, when you were twenty five, you had to have surgery, fed scully, o sis, and that put you in a cast for six months, which must have been such a scary time. How worried where you about how it was going to work out. You think that you're immortal a certain time in your life, and I knew- this was was a major operation and I was kind of a piece with whatever was gonna happen because our
my wife. She was obviously worried, but that wasn't going to affect her relationship with me, regardless of how the operation turned out, and I thought that I had experienced a lot and music by that time, and so, if I never played again, that's ok and that's where I really value being able to have an education, not because I went to new leaders, institution or because I was hang with marketing muck people, whatever the thing that was interesting, as it actually gave me, maybe totally unfounded a certain kind of confidence as they look, you know, yeah. I spent these number of years doing this, and if I never did it again, I'll put it I'll find something else to do, but it was a very meaningful moment because then, the extra years that came from being able to play that was a gift it stanfield. Fifty days,
yo, yo ma. Why have you chosen this way taking it to the island with you? I am a great fan of oscar petersen and I actually only hurt him once and it was an extraordinary experience. It was at an end but a festival, and I was playing in the little hall and he was performing an usher hall that evening, just big hall and I got a ticket I set out in a up in the balcony and for like two and a half hours I was treated to the most magnificent performance at the time was up farmers where he just became bigger and bigger. I thought at an hour in forty five minutes at that he's getting to the end now when he came back angle, nor two hours it just ok. That's that yeah now this is the at. This is great. This fact, and no look was so totally
the us petersen trio playing tin, tyndale, yo yo your interest in musical connections. Inspired you to set up the silk road ensemble. I was back in nineteen, ninety eight, its collaboration with musicians from north america, asia and europe, and I believe it began with it. Question, which is what happens when strangers meet what we hoping for, hopefully not after. This is an interesting question, because I think, even during the roman period, the romans knew that there was something far out there as in another culture, and they knew of each other's existence. There weren't the border patrol
That said, okay, this is where it stops dear scale. My scale is here: don't you cost? I got everything that you have just heard in that country where you find today exactly and today we have a choice. We can examine things and I think I chose to exercise that ability to be able to go to the new countries came after the dissolution of the soviet union and music. Actually is a good that travel slightly. If we think that cultures unique ability to turn the other into us is true, then music actually possesses that ability, because if you like the tune, It's yours! You like that secret cord, it's yours! Just suddenly, a huge world opened up that allowed us to to show the world
one stage when the silk road performed its time, feel sixth disk delia. What ve chosen then JANET baker has one of the most wonderful yes, voices and the song morgan is about a read a little bit of the poem. It's so beautiful tat tomorrow, again will shine the sun and
my sunlit path of earth, united again as it has done and give our bliss another bearing the spacious beach and a wave blue skies will reach by descending soft and slow and mutely gaze in each other's eyes. As over us raptures, great hush, we'll flock- and you hear this music and with those words it's a moment. Boy has sheep in great citizen, he's a real hero
morgan by report strives performed by deemed JANET baker. With gerald more at the piano you ve been married to your wife jill, the forty two years you ma am you- have two children to get up. Your own parents were extremely involved in your musical development. How important it to you that your children had music lessons and music in their lives. While it was important to my wife, because its first said, we don t give him music lessons as no you ve done a visit. family businesses they have learned from the instrument. They should know what thank goodness she did that, so they took care to listen. My son loves to saying my daughter played the violin and they both grew up with so many musicals and stuff, and I know all the words and then when they get together their singing away and when I think is music is part of human lives. See it's one more way to access our inner lives and our external lives
You mean we ve gotta, make some room to hear your next disk. It's your seventh track. Seven is moscow nets. For me, it's the voice of dmitri order of ski. This man died way too young for those of you that are hearing this look up the performance on youtube, for example, because their singing and
when square. Maybe it's red square and you see the audience and for me this is the ultimate example of a communal experience. You see the audience just swooning and appreciating every single phrase, and it may be actually love the peace and on a desert island. I just want to remember that as an example of what humanity is why we are actually having that communal transcendent experience swedish reefs sir.
most who The most moscow nights, by vasili soul. Yesterday performed by to meet It covers dusky with the moscow chamber orchestra conducted by constantine or belgian you, your mama, I'm about to cast your way to the desert island, which your disk soil seal, have your discs to keep you company eve described musics power to change the atmosphere of a place, it's invisible.
But nonetheless it is present in a space in almost has a physical effect on and the place where we are. What do you think your discs will do if the island, the environment is gonna change me and if I am therefore a month year forever, that will again make me reassess. Who am I? What is my purpose? What is the island? Do I listen to the music in my head? Do I create new music? The sounds of nature? Maybe they're bird songs, maybe there are new sounds that when you strike a rock there's something I've never heard before that, maybe there's something that inspires me when I look at the tides and ultimately this can be a blend as has always happened in how music has been formed in the past and will be in the future,
What are the things it out? We will want to try to replicate from home the music. Certainly is part of it all. I remember Leonard Cohen strauss, moscow knights and or maybe there will be a new music that comes from the crackling fire and birds and animals and an insect said that that's what we are when we are living as it were constantly taking a new information stimulated and trying to blended into our existence so that its meaningful one more disk, then before you go. What's he gonna be this disc?
I wore out the l p. I listen to it when I was twelve years old for a whole year. I know every note of that recording because it meant the world to me. It represented everything that music could be an schubert, especially so in the joyous moments, there's the slight wistfulness within the dark cloud- is a little ray of sunshine and take its always mix of the patina of schubert is, is always very evocative, In many ways he was a modest person, but he was able to describe like bar the most profound human emotion with the most glorious description of transcendence. Every time I hear it or play it.
Yet the goose bumps and it's a physical reaction to a an emergency.
The fourth movement Schebitz trio number two in e flat major played by alexander schneider, pablo castles and me she's warship ski, so you, your mamma. The time has come, I'm gonna go Stu awareness got. The time has come at a time to go. I'm gonna give you the books to take with you. You can have the by
the complete works. If shakespeare you can also other book of your choice. What would you like? A hot? I don't wanna be greedy, but I would love. The encyclopaedia Britannica at possible. Yes, it is possible on the type of nerd that would have relished opening any one of the twenty four volumes and just reading an article says wow who knew ass, really fascinating and if I'm gonna be on a desert island and I wanna have all of whatever that I've left behind. I would want that one of the greatest things we could have educationally or ass humans is access that
be the closest thing to access on everything that it would have left behind. What we can definitely do that for you. We can also context, perhaps more frivolous note of eu a luxury item to make your time on the island more enjoyable, but will he cheese? I would choose a tool. No, you can't find anything practical. Your luxury item has to be for the sensory stimulation relaxation only. I would love not up tool as a survival thing, but a tool as something that I love deeply, which is my penknife, because, specifically a swiss army knife, because I always while in the days of when we could carry it a board, I always travel with it, because it's the most wonderful thing,
have its the best companion to have under the greatest variety of circumstances, find myself it because you love it. because the swiss army knife is ongoing, play one of the most pleasing items in history. We can absolutely give that to you. I mean I just wouldn't look at is, if I wouldn't allow vile it's yours, author, you. Finally, Perhaps this is the most difficult question for you. If you had to say just one of the disks that you ve shared with us today, which would it be, I would say, I'd, take the sugar here we must thank you very much for letting a c a your desert island discs board, burgers adroit speaker with your script. hello,
really hope you enjoy that entity with the cellist, yo yo ma his performances have been chosen by so many castaways over the years that its especially great two final, I'm on the island in person. We have cost many others, the commission's away, and it could do their programmes from BBC sounds or a programme archive. If you enjoy, yo yo music choices you might want to find deemed janet because desert island discs and also jacqueline to praise favorite, eight well worth listen, you can hear that programmes, such three bbc sounds with a desert. Island discs website join me next time, when my guest will be the actor on director rigid wilson,
welcome to descendants the series which looks into our lives and our path and ass, something pretty simple. How close a reach of our lives to the legacy of britain's role in slavery and who does that mean? Our lives are linked to narrated by me. Yesterday reward we hear from those who have found themselves connected to each other. through this history, whoever you are well However, you are in britain. The chances are. This touches your life somewhere, somehow descendants from BBC radio full, listen now on BBC sounds
Transcript generated on 2022-06-05.