Yo Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma (Chinese: 馬友友 Ma Yo Yo; born October 7, 1955) is an American cellist. Born in Paris to Chinese parents and educated in New York City, he was a child prodigy, performing from the age of four and a half. He graduated from the Juilliard School and Harvard University and attended Columbia University and has performed as a soloist with orchestras around the world. He has recorded more than 90 albums and received 19 Grammy Awards.

In addition to recordings of the standard classical repertoire, Ma has recorded a wide variety of folk music, such as American bluegrass music, traditional Chinese melodies, the tangos of Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla, and Brazilian music. He has collaborated with artists in diverse genres, including the singer Bobby McFerrin, the guitarist Carlos Santana, Sérgio Assad and his brother, Odair, and the singer-songwriter-guitarist James Taylor. Ma’s primary performance instrument is a 1733 Montagnana cello valued at US$2.5 million.

Ma has been a United Nations Messenger of Peace since 2006. He was awarded The Glenn Gould Prize in 1999, the National Medal of Arts in 2001, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, and the Polar Music Prize in 2012. Ma was named one of Times 100 Most Influential People of 2020.

Ma’s mother, Marina Lu, was a singer, and his father, Hiao-Tsiun Ma, was a violinist, composer and professor of music at Nanjing National Central University (now relocated in Taoyuan, Taiwan; predecessor of the present-day Nanjing University and Southeast University). They both migrated from the Republic of China to France during the Chinese Civil War.

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