Newsletter October 2011 – The Faces of US Immigrants: Yo-Yo Ma, A Cellist with the Bow of an Angel

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The Faces of US Immigrants: Yo-Yo Ma, A Cellist with the Bow of an Angel

Yo-Yo Ma, born on October 7, 1955 in Paris, France, is an American virtuoso cellist who has won multiple Grammy Awards, the National Medal of Arts in 2001and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. He is one of the most famous cellists of the modern age.

Yo-Yo Ma had a musical upbringing. His mother, Marina Lu, was a singer, and his father, Hiao-Tsiun Ma, was a violinist and professor of music. His family moved to New York when he was five years old. He took up the cello in 1960 at age four. Mr. Ma began performing at the age five, and performed for Presidents John F. Kennedy and Dwight D. Eisenhower when he was seven. At age eight, he appeared on American television with his sister, Yeou-Cheng Ma, in a concert conducted by Leonard Bernstein.

Ma studied at the Juilliard School at age nine and briefly attended Columbia University before ultimately enrolling at Harvard University. Prior to entering Harvard, Ma played in the Marlboro Festival Orchestra under the direction of world famous cellist and conductor Pablo Casals. His recordings and performances of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suites recorded in 1983 and again in 1994–1997 are universally acclaimed.

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