Yo-Yo Ma: “It’s Never Art for Art’s Sake”
January 20, 2020 In: Sound Bits
In a March 2019 talk given at Harvard University, Yo-You Ma asserted:
It’s Never Art for Art’s sake, because even if I do it for myself in my head, I have an ideal. I’m actually trying to take something — a construct, a concept, a theory — and then I want to make it visible. I want to make it audible, I want to make it tactile. I want to make it felt.1
Yo-Yo Ma’s position is clear and compelling. His numerous initiatives, including the Silk Road Ensemble and The Bach Project, are transformative and have a deep impact on the communities they serve. For example, with the Bach Project, Ma will perform the six cello suites at 36 different locations around the globe. Ma turned to Bach for its “ability to speak to our shared humanity at a time when our civic conversation is so often focused on division.”2 Each concert is accompanied by a Day of Action—a series of events designed to bring communities together, encourage discourse, and develop new partnerships amongst various stakeholders.
For some—performers and/or audience members—art can function as an escape and respite from the challenges and reality of our modern society. Wildfires, partisan politics, and gun violence are just a few of the headlines we see on the morning news. As artists in the twenty-first century, do we have a responsibility to engage with these topics or provide solace from them? How might we cultivate a symbiotic relationship between the cathartic element of music making and its ability to encourage discourse and enact social change? In addition to bringing awareness to a topic, how do we enact meaningful change around it.
How do we make every day a “Day of Action?”
Read the entire article HERE.
Learn more about The Bach Project HERE.