Perfomed with Yo-Yo Ma

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Perfomed with Yo-Yo Ma

Post by Heck148 » Sat Feb 04, 2012 1:39 pm

Perhaps this should go in the concert review folder, but I;m not really posting it as a review as such - it is more like reporting an event, at which I was a participant.

My orchestra - Cape Cod Symphony - is celebrating its 50th anniversary this season...

we just completed one of our special events - a concert with cellist Yo-Yo Ma...he performed the Saint-Saens Concerto #1, Andante Cantabile of Tchaikovsky [from Serendae] and Casals "Song of the birds"

this was quite the gala event - widely anticipated - tickets sold out almost immediately - the most expensive ones c $$225 @ going the fastest...

I have to say, it was quite a highlight, one I'll rank highly in my career remembrances - after thousands of concerts.

his playing was exquisite - real artistry - he has a great sound - full rich, bright, round, brillinat, penetrating, soft, delicate - the whole spectrum, which he employed depending on the musical need. I've heard him many times on TV, and the tv sound just doesn't do justice.
terrific technique, of course, but also lovely, long cantabile phrases. the statospheric passages in the S-Sns were dead on the mark for pitch and tone quality, as easy as playing "middle C" :D :roll:
During rehearsal I went out in the auditorium to hear the Tchaikovsky. it was lovely, beyond description.

Yo-Yo Ma is very gregarious and friendly - he was most friendly to the orchestra, and made every effort to include us in the collective music-making. He listened intently to every orchestral solo, and responded "in kind" regarding phrasing, dynamics, etc...He constantly urged the orchestra to think, play, in long melodic lines. multi-bar phrases, go for the long sustained melody. He certainly seemed to be enjoying himself tremendously, and that made it so for us, as well.
He enthusiastically chatted and mixed in with the orchestra members, and quite readily invited the cellists to try out his Stradivarius cello!! :shock: this is unique,, for sure!!

What was interesting was the pre-concert warnings/forebodings about Mr Ma's arrangements. naturally, everything went thru his agent - who specified that Mr. Ma will not sign autographs, will not be involved in long informal chat sessions; backstage greeters, well-wishers were "verboten". When asked if he would attend a special post-conceet reception - <OK, but he'll only stay for 20 minutes>
that's the agent speaking, mind you - :lol:
in "real life" - Mr Ma engaged in enthusiastic discussions with the musicians, was extremely friendly and gregarious to everyone; he did indeed attend the reception, had a wonderful time, and stayed for hours !! :lol: :lol:

The orchestra stepped up spendidly, I thought - we played the Ibert "Divertissement" - a multi-mvt suite, typically French, witty, colorful, with lots of orchestral "raspberries" - quaint mystical passages mixed with raucous gallops, waltzes etc.
Falla - "Ritual Fire Dance from El Amor Brujo" followed that - then Mr Ma's pieces. the concert concluded with Saint-Saens "Samson/Delilah Bacchanale", which received a fiery and wild rendition.

needless to say, the audience went nuts, not just for Yo-Yo Ma, but for the orchestra as well. prolonged SO, perhaps the longest I can remember.
this concert was not just celebratory - but was also an outreach effort reach some very, VERY wealthy potential donors who live nearby, who may never have heard the orchestra before. we'll see if that effort bears any fruit - it certainly couldn't hurt...

very excellent, memorable concert.

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Re: Perfomed with Yo-Yo Ma

Post by Seán » Sat Feb 04, 2012 1:57 pm

What a great report Heck, thanks for sharing that with us.

"To appreciate the greatness of the Masters is to keep faith in the greatness of humanity." - Wilhelm Furtwängler

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Re: Perfomed with Yo-Yo Ma

Post by Beckmesser » Sat Feb 04, 2012 2:37 pm

Yo-Yo Ma appears at Tanglewood every summer (he happens to have a home nearby). I would say he is probably the most popular artist at Tanglewood. And, yes, he does seem to be very friendly. He happily speaks with audience members who approach the stage after rehearsals.

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Re: Perfomed with Yo-Yo Ma

Post by NancyElla » Sat Feb 04, 2012 3:01 pm

What a great experience! It is good to know he's a genuinely nice guy (not just someone who plays a nice guy on TV). What you said about his listening to closely to the orchestra reminded me of the first time I heard him in a live performance--a few years ago, with the National Symphony Orchestra at Wolf Trap Park. He was to play the Dvorak concerto, and I remember clearly how I was struck by the intensity of his listening during the orchestral intro--he made the phrase "active listening" come to life.
"This is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great." --Willa Cather

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Re: Perfomed with Yo-Yo Ma

Post by IcedNote » Sat Feb 04, 2012 3:30 pm

What a great experience! Congrats, and thanks for sharing it. :)

I'll add that I was fortunate enough to attend an intimate masterclass with him (maybe 20 people there total). He was just as engaging and friendly there as Heck has described him above. Not even for a second did he seem superficial.

Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

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Re: Perfomed with Yo-Yo Ma

Post by maestrob » Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:07 am


What a magical experience! Thanks so much for sharing. As for not signing autographs, well, I happen to have a flyleaf with his autograph signed with a gold pen on my piano from 20 years ago: guess he ran out of ink!

Love him as a musician and as a human being.

Congrats on a lovely evening! :D

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Re: Perfomed with Yo-Yo Ma

Post by Werner » Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:11 pm

Heck, one might say that after your lovely report, nothing further is needed to affirm this happy occasion - but with the struggles and competition for recognition it's nice to see both artist and "reporter" reach this level of performance and mutual acknowlegment. Your report pictures a great artist, happy in his profession. An evening, it seems, to be remembered.
Werner Isler

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