Yo-yo Ma is a cellist and multi-instrumentalist of Chinese parents, at the age of four he studied violin and viola before learning cello. He began to excel in the world of music from a very young age. He has won numerous awards and distinctions (including several Grammys), has recorded numerous albums and has performed in the largest theaters and operas on the planet. He is considered one of the best cellists in the world.
He was born in Paris in 1955 and began playing in public when he was only five years old. In 1962 his family moved to New York, where he lived most of his formative years.At age eight he appears on American television in a concert conducted by Leonard Bernstein. At the age of fifteen he graduated from high school and has already performed as a soloist with the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra. Yo-Yo Ma studied at the Juilliard School of Music with Leonard Rose, before entering Harvard University.
He gained great recognition and popularity and toured with many of the world’s leading orchestras. His recordings of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Solo Cello Suites have been especially acclaimed. He has also played chamber music on numerous occasions, accompanied by pianist Emanuel Ax, with whom he has maintained a good friendship since they met at Juilliard. He graduated from Harvard in 1976, which earned him an honorary doctorate in 1991.
On July 7, 1994, he premiered the John Williams Concerto for cello and orchestra, under his direction and accompanied by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The concert was written especially for him, as Seiji Ozawa suggested. In 1997 Yo-Yo Ma played the Edward Elgar Cello Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Daniel Barenboim.
Yo-Yo Ma is currently working on the Silk Road Project, an initiative of Ma himself that began in 1998 and whose main objective is to link the arts of the West and the East by bringing together artists and the public from all over the world, and with which he has provided the possibility of development and study of all social classes within the framework of the ideas and traditions of the different cultures covered by the Silk Road. He has won numerous awards and accolades and has recorded more than 50 albums, currently performing in the most important theaters and operas in the world. On January 20, 2009, he participated in the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama, performing with the musicians Itzhak Perlman, Gabriela Montero and Anthony McGill the work Air and Simple Gifts, a composition by the musician John Williams.
To date he has won 18 grammys.