mr. ma came to town

rather than review last night’s concert in its amazing entirety, the classical beaver is focusing in on just one moment – probably the moment of the evening – mr. ma’s redunkulous solo (“cadenza” if you want to be all fancy pants about it).  when i wasn’t watching yo-yo, i was watching the orchestra musicians watching yo-yo, which was equally enthralling.  in their own words, here’s what some of ’em recalled of that moment:

I was thinking how nice it was that there wasn’t an empty seat in the house, so I couldn’t go and listen! Since there were no trumpet parts, several of us were listening on the speakers in the backstage area.  I heard the rehearsal, but he didn’t play the cadenza… What I did hear was terrific, of course!

I was thinking about how quietly Yo-Yo was able to play, and how well that sound was probably carrying into the hall, how this was only possible with an amazing instrument, how that skill level (both instrument maker, composer, soloist) is the ultimate ‘analog’ experience.

I was thinking… what kind of world does he see and experience when he is playing such sublime music.  It appears to me that he is in a different universe, and I am on the outside looking in hoping to somehow get a better view.  The little that I could see was breathtaking.

I was thinking what a great communicator Yo-Yo is, and how he seems to be a complete embodiment of what he plays.

The cadenza was my only real chance to look at him closely while he played and observe his technique.  He had everyone there completely absorbed, he took all the time he needed, and he wasn’t afraid of silence.  Embodiment, indeed.

I was backstage with almost every other musician who did not play in the piece.  It is the only time I can think of that I have seen musicians pull up chairs backstage & listen to a soloist when they weren’t playing (usually we are watching TV or playing games in the lounge).  I was not thinking about Yo-Yo much during the cadenza – I was just sort of transfixed by the music itself.  It is rare, and one of a hundred reasons I love Yo-Yo.  He makes it so that it is not just all about him, when everyone else is making it SO all about him.

I was listening.

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2 Responses to “mr. ma came to town”


  1. 1 Elaine Calder December 6, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    I was fortunate to hear Yo-Yo describe Bach to someone in the donor lounge after the concert. I’m paraphrasing, but he said something very similar to this:

    Bach gives you an objective view of the whole universe, and at the same time he conveys a deep love of humanity. But he doesn’t put himself at the center.

    All I could think was Yo-Yo, that sounds so much like you.

  2. 2 James Bash December 9, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Thanks Elaine! That is a wonderful quote!


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