For cellist Yo-Yo Ma, life is a collection of experiences, from beginning to end, and all the notes in between.
He celebrates this journey in Songs from the Arc of Life, his new release in which long-time friend pianist Kathryn Stott accompanies him.
It features pieces by Debussy, Gershwin, and Tchaikovsky, among others. Ma describes the album as a soundtrack for life.
“What is a life, you know? Everybody goes through hard times, good times, and when you go through any one of those times, extreme moments, there’s usually some music associated with it, you know, first date, first kiss, you know, moments where … or grief, first loss, and, so we kind of compiled something that goes from beginning to end.”
Born in France, the prestigious cellist has recorded over 90 albums and has won 18 Grammy Awards. Ma comments on turning 60, which he celebrated in early October.
“Well, you know, in some ways it’s very freeing. You know, some people say as you get older, you get more so, so if you’re cranky as a younger person you get maybe crankier, or you know, you just get more intensely something that you are already, and I think I feel so much freer in terms of knowing that, you know, I’m older, and, so what? Right? And I feel I can be more and more myself.”
Ma says that while music is his profession, it is also the thing that helps him unwind.
“I actually use music to stay balanced. For me, performing is the ultimate relaxation.”
Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott are currently on tour for Songs from the Arc of Life, which was released in September.