“While it’s impossible not to think of Johann Sebastian Bach as you walk through [Leipzig], where he spent the final decades of his life, what little remains of his world here has been altered almost beyond recognition,” writes Zachary Woolfe in Friday’s (/28) New York Times. “In the bustling, largely immigrant neighborhood of Neustadt … Yo-Yo Ma [recently] bounded into a room in a community center, Stradivarius cello in hand, and moved swiftly around a seated circle of adults and children…. Over the next two years, he will visit 36 cities … on six continents…. In each city, he will pair a performance [the six Bach cello suites] with what he’s calling a ‘day of action’ that brings Bach into the community…. It’s a small and glancing, but also deeply felt, attempt to suggest that this music … could … change the world…. Now a grandfather, he has aged easily into the role of global-citizen humanist, lecturing on the role of artists and culture in a fraying society.” At Leipzig’s St. Nicholas Church, “where Bach made music three centuries ago … Mr. Ma played with honesty, straightforwardness and lack of exaggeration … It moved past loveliness into something greater.”
Click here for video of Yo-Yo Ma discussing why arts and culture matter now more than ever, at the League of American Orchestras’ Conference in June. 

Posted October 1, 2018

In photo: Yo-Yo Ma, performing at Stadtteilpark in Leipzig, Germany, earlier this month as part of his planned 36-city, six-continent tour that blends performances of Bach with community engagement. Photo by Mustafah Abdulaziz / New York Times