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On Center: Yo-Yo Ma with Kathryn Stott

by on May 01, 2017 12:29 PM

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, one of the world’s most celebrated musicians, will appear at Penn State for only the third time when he performs in concert with pianist Kathryn Stott November 3 at Eisenhower Auditorium.

Ma, whose career is defined by an insatiable desire to find musical connections across cultures, and Stott, a fixture on the international music scene for decades, have performed together for more than 30 years. Their collaborations include two Grammy Award-winning albums, Obrigado Brazil and Obrigado Brazil–Live in Concert. The pair’s most recent album is 2015’s Songs from the Arc of Life.

“When it comes to artistic partnerships, there’s a lot to be said for the fireworks of musicians joining together for the first time,” writes an NPR critic. “But there’s another kind of collaboration that can yield profound pleasure: a recording with two artists who know each other deeply, in a relationship that has unfolded over years and even decades. That’s the case with world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott, who have been playing together since 1984. Over those many years, they’ve developed a wonderfully warm and mutually responsive musical partnership that has blossomed in performances that are both generous and incisive.” 

Ma’s discography includes more than 100 albums. Eighteen have earned Grammys. His most recent, Bach Trios, came out in April and is a collaboration with bassist Edgar Meyer and mandolinist Chris Thile. Sing Me Home, his 2016 recording with the Silk Road Ensemble, is a companion to the documentary film The Music of Strangers.

Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble develops new music, cultural partnerships, education programs, and cross-disciplinary alliances. The ensemble has commissioned more than 80 musical and multimedia works from composers and arrangers across the planet.

Ma’s popular and critically acclaimed recordings are doorways into classical and world music for people who might not otherwise listen.

“I feel deeply committed to the tradition I know best, and I was schooled in, but I also feel that’s part of a world tradition. It’s one of the best things people have invented,” Ma said in a 2009 interview with the Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State. “And then I find that other people feel that way about their traditions, and I say, ‘Well, okay, show me what you know. Show me what you love, so I can love it, too.’ ” 

Ma last appeared at Eisenhower in 2009 for the world premiere of he, violinist Itzhak Perlman, and pianist Emanuel Ax in concert as a trio. The cellist first performed at Penn State as a soloist with the German Youth Orchestra in 1991.

Stott has performed globally as a soloist and a chamber musician since 1978, when she was a prize winner at the Leeds International Piano Competition. She is an exponent of tango and other Latin dance music. Her most recent solo release, Solitaires, explores French works for piano. She was recently appointed artistic director of the Australian Festival of Chamber Music.  

For information about the Center for the Performing Arts 2017-18 season, visit cpa.psu.edu beginning June 12.



John Mark Rafacz is the editorial manager of the Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State.
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