The remarkable and regular Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma
Go Mighty

Civic Orchestra of Chicago 

  • Haydn Cello Concerto
  • Beethoven Sym 6 (Pastoral)


Yo-Yo Ma is made up of different stuff than I am.

Watching him play, I wonder: "Where does he go while he's doing that?"

Turning inward? Transcending upward? I'm pretty sure there's a part of him that exits what both the other musicians and the audience agree is our shared sense of "here." And what does it mean for his body - seriously, on a cellular level, what does it mean - that he has committed incredibly complex pieces of music to muscle memory? And that they come out sounding like that?

And - man, what a nice guy! He's so of us, of the best in us. The Civic is a training orchestra, and he smiled and joked and created a love fest on stage with those young musicians. He radiates a powerfully benevolent energy - did he and the Dalai Lama matriculate from the same divine School for Messengers for Peace & Joy? They subscribe to the same cosmic mailing lists at least.

He talked them into playing the Beethoven without a conductor in front of a packed house. Those musicians had the time of their lives. High fives all around on stage afterward. In a literal sense, we could see joy passed among them through smiles and eye contact, and - lucky us - our remarkable and regular human brains, tucked away in our remarkable and regular human bodies, picked it up and processed it as our own.

Message received, Mr. Ma.