Yo-Yo Ma to deliver Thompson Forum Lecture

· 4 min read

Yo-Yo Ma to deliver Thompson Forum Lecture

Yo-Yo Ma

World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma will deliver a lecture Dec. 5 at UNL’s Lied Center for Performing Arts as part of the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues.

The lecture, “Cultural Citizens,” begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets, at $34, are available at http://www.liedcenter.org, at the Lied Center Box Office, 301 N. 12th St., or by phone at 402-472-4747. UNL students can obtain free tickets to the lecture at http://marketplace.unl.edu/liedcenter.

Ma, whose Dec. 4 concert at the Lied Center sold out, will address the vital role of culture and the arts and sciences in our society and the ways in which each of us – both cultural workers and general audiences – can come together to work as “cultural citizens.” Illustrating his words with music and examples of success, Ma will discuss why this expanded version of culture matters and what benefits it brings to us as individuals and societies. He will then identify some of the challenges that the arts and sciences as part of culture face, and how we can respond as cultural citizens in a way that makes culture a transformative force in our lives and those of the people around us.

“This is an extremely rare opportunity to witness perhaps the most well-known classical musician of our time not only speaking on the topics of creativity and culture, but playing his instrument as well,” said Bill Stephan, Lied Center executive director. “This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that few cities and arts presenters have the privilege of hosting.”

Ma’s multi-faceted career is testament to his continual search for new ways to communicate with audiences, and to his personal desire for artistic growth and renewal. Whether performing new or familiar works from the cello repertoire, coming together with colleagues for chamber music or exploring cultures and musical forms outside the Western classical tradition, Ma strives to find connections that stimulate the imagination.

He maintains a balance between his engagements as soloist with orchestras throughout the world and his recital and chamber music activities. He draws inspiration from a wide circle of collaborators, creating programs with such artists as Emanuel Ax, Daniel Barenboim, Christoph Eschenbach, Kayhan Kalhor, Ton Koopman, Bobby McFerrin, Edgar Meyer, Mark Morris, Riccardo Muti, Mark O’Connor, Kathryn Stott, Michael Tilson Thomas, Wu Man, Wu Tong, Damian Woetzel and David Zinman.

Ma’s discography of more than 90 albums (including more than 17 Grammy Award-winners) reflects his wide-ranging interests. All of his recent albums have quickly entered the Billboard chart of classical best sellers, remaining in the top 15 for extended periods, often with as many as four titles simultaneously on the list.

Born in 1955 to Chinese parents living in Paris, Ma began to study the cello with his father at 4 and soon came with his family to New York, where he spent most of his formative years. Later, his principal teacher was Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School. He sought out a traditional liberal arts education to expand upon his conservatory training, graduating from Harvard University in 1976. He has received numerous awards, including the Avery Fisher Prize (1978), the Glenn Gould Prize (1999), the National Medal of the Arts (2001), the Dan David Prize (2006), the Sonning Prize (2006), the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award (2008), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2010), the Polar Music Prize (2012) and the Vilcek Prize in Contemporary Music (2013). In 2011, Ma was recognized as a Kennedy Center Honoree. Appointed a CultureConnect Ambassador by the U.S. Department of State in 2002, Ma has met with, trained and mentored thousands of students worldwide in countries including Lithuania, Korea, Lebanon, Azerbaijan and China. Ma serves as a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and as a United Nations Messenger of Peace. He has performed for eight American presidents, most recently at the invitation of President Obama on the occasion of the 56th Inaugural Ceremony.

Prior to Ma’s lecture, Sheldon Museum of Art, 12th and R streets, will host a First Friday reception honoring “The Creative World,” the theme of this season’s Thompson lecture series. Starting at 5 p.m. and ending at 7 p.m., the reception is free and open to the public. Attendees will have an opportunity to visit Sheldon’s exhibitions and enjoy pop-up performances by the University Chamber Singers throughout the museum galleries and Great Hall. These small and varied mini-concerts will continue into the Lied Center lobby prior to the lecture. Musical offerings will include a broad variety of songs and carols sung in small groups and as an ensemble in and around the Sheldon and Lied Center spaces. Echoes of ancient and modern carols and masses; songs of contemporary composers featuring Carol Barnett, Eric Whitacre and Morten Lauridsen; and a new work, “Sounding Art,” by Charlie Leftridge, a UNL graduate student composer and member of the Chamber Singers, will fill the air.

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