Meet The Performers

Visiting Artist

Yo-Yo Ma

Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant

Yo-Yo Ma was appointed the Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by Music Director Riccardo Muti in December 2009, and his consultancy was renewed through the end of the 2014/15 season in January 2012. Ma is currently fulfilling his second term in this role by providing musical leadership and guidance for the CSOA's Institute for Learning, Access and Training and the CSO's Citizen Musician initiative, which empowers and encourages musicians and music lovers to strengthen their communities through the sharing of music.  

Yo-Yo Ma's multifaceted career is testament to his continual search for new ways to communicate with audiences and for artistic growth and renewal. Whether performing a new concerto, revisiting a familiar work from the cello repertory, coming together with colleagues for chamber music or exploring musical forms outside of the Western classical tradition, he strives to find connections that stimulate the imagination. 

Ma maintains a balance between his engagements as soloist with orchestras throughout the world and his recital and chamber music activities. In 1998, he established the Silk Road Project to promote the study of the cultural, artistic and intellectual traditions along the ancient Silk Road trade route. In the 2006/07 season, partnering with the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the City of Chicago, the Project presented Silk Road Chicago, a citywide exploration of the artistic legacy of the Silk Road. In 2009/10, the Silk Road Project introduced, Silk Road Connect, a multidisciplinary educational initiative for New York City middle-school students. 

An exclusive Sony Classical artist, his discography of over 75 albums (including more than 15 Grammy Awards) reflects his wide-ranging interests. His recent recordings include Songs of Joy and Peace; Paris: La Belle Époque with pianist Kathryn Stott; and New Impossibilities, a live album recorded with the Silk Road Ensemble and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He also appears on John Williams' soundtrack to Rob Marshall's film Memoirs of a Geisha. His newest album, The Goat Rodeo Sessions, with Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile and Stuart Duncan, was released in October 2011.

He is strongly committed to educational programs that not only bring young audiences into contact with classical music but also allow them to participate in its creation. He has received numerous awards, including the Avery Fisher Prize (1978), the Glenn Gould Prize (1999), the National Medal of the Arts (2001), the Dan David Prize (2006) and the Sonning Prize (2006). In February 2010, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor, from President Obama. Yo-Yo Ma serves as a UN Messenger of Peace and as a member of the President's Committee on the Arts & Humanities. He was also recently recognized as a 2011 Kennedy Center Honoree and a 2012 Polar Music Prize Laureate. 

Born to Chinese parents living in Paris, Ma began to study the cello with his father at the age of 4 and, after moving with his family to New York, with Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School. He graduated from Harvard University in 1976. He plays a 1733 Montagnana cello from Venice and the 1712 Davidoff Stradivarius. 

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February 2013


Please note: Biographies on the CSO website are based on the information that was most recently provided to the CSO by the artists or their representatives. More current information may be available on the artists' own websites or those of their representatives.