Emma Thompson, Yo-Yo Ma honoured by World Economic Forum in Davos

Yo-Yo Ma
The Canadian Press

Emma Thompson raced to the stage to receive an honour Friday from the World Economic Forum for her humanitarian work, and then gushed like an actress who had not already won Academy, Emmy and Golden Globe awards.

"The brainpower in this room alone, well let's not even go there," Thompson told the gathering of 2,500 business, political and academic leaders in the Swiss Alps.

This was a decidedly different crowd for the 48-year-old Brit, who won Best Actress in 1992 for her performance in "Howard's End" and claimed another Oscar four years later for her screenplay of "Sense and Sensibility."

The Forum recognized Thompson for her work in helping people suffering from AIDS in Africa and raising awareness around the world.

"I love getting awards and haven't had one for ages," she joked, absolutely captivating a stargazing audience of presidents, prime ministers and some of the richest CEOs in the world.

Thompson was followed to the stage by Yo-Yo Ma, a French-born American cellist of Chinese descent who could make a strong case as the personification of the Forum's theme this year - "the power of collaborative innovation."

Ma was recognized by the Forum for his efforts to promote cultural exchange, and in particular for his "Silk Road" project that brings together musicians from different backgrounds and traditions in the East and the West.

The 52-year-old winner of 15 Grammy Awards brought his cello with him.

"I think it unwise to follow Emma Thompson with saying anything, so may I offer instead a little musical thanks?" Ma asked the crowd.

He chose a sarabande by Johann Sebastian Bach. The piece, he said, was the right one for the moment because it originated as a North African dance and made its way to Spain and France before reaching Germany.