It rained earlier that day, cleansing the earth, or should I say, preparing the earth for our evening activities. It was my first time at the Blossom Music Center in Ohio, and the first time to, finally, see Yo-Yo Ma in concert. J. S. Bach was there too, through the music, as Yo-Yo Ma performed all six Bach Cello Suites for two and a half hours. The stage was huge for one man and his musical companion, but Yo-Yo Ma took charge and owned it. He walked out on stage to rapturous applause. Even before the crowed settled in, Bach’s famous Prelude in G Major echoed throughout the pavilion and out to the grassy lawn to over 5,000 listening ears in the pavilion and probably over 5,000 more in the lawn area behind us (Blossom can fit up to 20,000 people). About 15 minutes into the first suite, a bird began to compete with Yo-Yo and Bach for attention. He must have realized his song did not fit with the virtuoso work of Yo-Yo and Bach together and soon settled in to listen along with us. As the night progressed and the sun went down, the crickets came out to add their own soothing commentary.
Yo-Yo Ma knows all six suites by heart and these cello suites have brought him through troubled times, giving him, “sustenance, comfort, and joy during times of stress, celebration, and loss.” Yo- Yo Ma felt the music and mirrored the music’s expression through his facial gestures and movement. It was a delight to watch him up close on the screens provided.
In the program Yo-Yo Ma states, “I share this music, which has helped shape the evolution of my life, with the hope that it might spark a conversation about how culture can be a source of the solutions we need. It is one more experiment, this time in search for answers to the question: What can we do together, that we cannot do alone? I invite you to join me on this adventure, to listen and be inspired by helpers in your own life.”
Throughout the evening I felt alert and at the same time, such peace. A night I will never forget.
You can listen to the Bach Suites by Yo-Yo Ma on Spotify. His new recording of the Bach: Cello Suites comes out this Friday, August 17.