Yo-Yo Ma fosters Toronto students' creativity

Yo-Yo Ma
CBC News

World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma serenaded a group of students aged 11 to 13 in Toronto's Music Garden on Thursday, but first the students performed for him.

Ma and the students have been building a relationship for several months, as part of a residency set up by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra as part of its 90th season.

The students were asked to record a creative response to the Music Garden: a garden on Toronto's waterfront that Ma helped design in 1999. Over the past few months, they took photos, wrote poetry and composed dances in response to music and the natural surroundings.

Meanwhile, Ma oversaw their progress through occasional Skype video calls. Jeffrey Beecher, the principal double-bassist for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and a member of Ma's Silk Road Ensemble, also dropped by their classrooms to help.

As Deana Sumanac reports, the result is a combination of interpretive dance, poetry and music that the students performed Thursday for Ma.

The residency included two concerts at Roy Thomson Hall, where Ma performed Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto and Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky's Night Music: Voice in the Leaves, led by TSO music director Peter Oundjian.