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A Musical Memorial and Tribute: Yo-Yo Ma plays Bach's Solo Cello Suites Live

Listen on NEPR Radio 88.5 FM Sunday, May 24 at 3 p.m. — a one-time-only event. 

A Musical Memorial and Tribute: Yo-Yo Ma plays Bach's Solo Cello Suites Live

More About A Musical Memorial and Tribute: Yo-Yo Ma plays Bach's Solo Cello Suites Live

Presented by WCRB Classical Radio Boston, cellist Yo-Yo Ma will perform J.S. Bach’s six cello suites live from the studios of public media producer WGBH on Sunday, May 24 at 3 p.m, as a memorial for those we have lost in the pandemic and a tribute to the resilience of our communities. This performance comes during what would have been the now-postponed final leg of Ma's The Bach Project, a 36-stop, six-continent tour of the complete cello suites. The Project is part of a larger conversation about how culture can help us to imagine and build the world we want. Hosted by Brian McCreath of WCRB, host of the Boston Symphony Orchestra broadcasts, Sunday’s 2.5-hour performance will air live and uninterrupted in western New England on NEPR 88.5 FM. It will also be available for live streaming at nepr.net and on Yo-Yo Ma’s YouTube channel.

In August 2018, Yo-Yo Ma began a two-year journey to perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s six suites for solo cello in 36 locations around the world, music that is among the first Yo-Yo ever learned when he began playing the cello at age four. The project was motivated not only by his six-decade relationship with the music, but also by Bach’s ability to speak to our shared humanity at a time when our civic conversation is so often focused on division.

Alongside each concert, Yo-Yo and his team partnered with artists and culture makers, cultural and community organizations, and leaders from across sectors to design conversations, collaborations, and performances. These public events and creative experiences were different in every location, aspiring to local relevance and global significance.

When Ma visited the Berkshires last summer, he performed the six cello suites at Tanglewood. The day before, he met with 36 arts organizations, businesses, and nonprofits in Pittsfield, where they built benches and tables for local organizations and homes, planted trees, and held a town-hall-style meeting discussing how “making” builds confidence, encourages resilience, and helps create a strong community.

The final leg of The Bach Project was cut short by COVID-19. The May 24 live broadcast keeps its spirit alive.