Yo-Yo Ma’s artistry includes hugs and kisses.
The cello maestro spent several days in Stevens Point last week – much of it working with more than 2,000 public and private school and university students and sharing his talent with them. Sentry Insurance sponsored Ma’s visit, which included a Thursday public performance in its “Invitation to the Arts” series. We owe Sentry a big “thank you” for its generosity, kindness and wisdom in bringing Ma to the area to foster our collective cultural experiences.
The students who interacted with Ma likely won’t forget their workshops. Neither will hundreds of others who had the chance to attend his performances and those able to meet the man personally. Ma certainly is gregarious and most willing to help young musicians with their development.
To Sentry’s credit, the company earmarked proceeds from Ma’s performances to support arts programs in the Stevens Point schools.
Ma and his 16-member Silk Road Ensemble wrapped up their Stevens Point stay with a concert at the Theater@1800. The event was a sellout, and judging from the audience reaction, was a spectacular success. Ma’s personal warmth was evident and he stood with his fellow musicians, bowing, smiling and returning applause as the audience gave the performers two lengthy standing ovations.
We were fortunate to be among those attending. The program was perhaps the most unusual concert I’ve experienced, featuring totally unfamiliar and unusual music, utilizing several instruments I’d never heard of. When was the last time you listened to musicians playing Indian tablas, Persian kamanchehs, gaitas, shakuhachis, Chinese pipas, shens or bawus together with more traditional violins, cellos and percussion instruments?