Yo-Yo Ma to perform at depauw on Saturday, meet with students and work with Greencastle community


Not only is Yo-Yo Ma performing for a sold out crowd, meeting with students and chairing the 21-Century Musician Advisory Board, but Ma will also perform popups around the Greencastle community.

According to Judson Green, 1974 DePauw graduate and namesake of the Green Center for Performing Arts, the tickets sold out in under four minutes. This compares to the last time Ma performed when the tickets sold out in six minutes.

According to the Depauw University School of Music (SoM) website, Ma is performing on Saturday as a part of the Green Guest Artist Series. This is Ma’s third time performing at Depauw. In honor of  Ma’s upcoming concert, a showing of his Silk Road project documentary “The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble” played on Tuesday evening.

Senior Erin Lupardus plays the cello in the SoM. Lupardus attended the film screening and said it was inspirational. “It was really cool seeing interviews from him talking about his experiences and why he’s compelled to make the Silk Road Ensemble and spread those cultural connections between musicians of different cultures,” Lupardus said.

Green said Ma fell in love with DePauw and the community. “He liked what we were doing. He liked that we weren’t a big school in a big urban area,” said Green. “He loved the idea of DePauw and he loved the idea that is was very special.”

President Mark McCoy said Judson and Joyce Green (‘74 & ‘75) are responsible for bring Ma to DePauw. President McCoy was the Dean of the SoM for five years and was able to meet Ma. “Yo-Yo Ma beyond being the greatest cellist in the world and being the single most famous classical musician in the world is also the nicest guy in the world.”

Both Green and President McCoy said Ma is a personable and kind person. “For a man of his stature to be able to connect with people consistently on a very personal level, that's just remarkable skill,” said President McCoy. “Yo-Yo is not just one of the most talented one of the most brilliant but he’s one of the most kindest people I’ve ever known and he believes in DePauw and he believes in the 21-Century initiative.”

Ma has been an active member of the Depauw community for several years. The SoM website announced Ma as honorary chairman for the 21-Century Musician Advisory Board. He was the ribbon cutter for the grand opening of Music on the Square in June 2013. He also visited the SoM for two days and performed in September 2011.

According to the SoM website, Ma was born in Paris in 1955. He began practicing cello at the age of four. Bach’s first Cello Suite was the first piece of music Ma learned. By the age of five, Ma memorized three of Bach’s solo suites, according to Biography.com. By the age of seven,  Ma was considered a prodigy and already a famous classical musician.  

Ma is an alumnus of the Juilliard School of Music and Harvard University. He is a solo cellist, who plays with many orchestras all over the world. According to Biography.com, Ma has produced 75 albums and won over 15 Grammy Awards. He has made appearances on different television shows, including “The Simpsons” and “West Wing.” In 2011, Ma won an Academy Award for Best Original Score for the film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Ma will perform in the Green Center for Performing Arts in Kresge Auditorium on Saturday at 8 p.m. “Getting his [Ma] time is very precious,” said Green. “He’s a one of a kind person and I’ve never met a musician of any kind that touches people.”