“Ma Cello Nicknamed Petunia”

As you begin to realize that every different type of music, everybody’s individual music, has its own rhythm, life, language and heritage, you realize how life changes, and you learn how to be more open and adaptive to what is around us. Yo-Yo Ma

When you learn something from people, or from a culture, you accept it as a gift, and it is your lifelong commitment to preserve it and build on it. Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma (born October 7, 1955) is an American cellist. He was a child prodigy and was performing by age five. He completed a Bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1976. He has played as a soloist with many major orchestras. His 75 albums have received fifteen Grammy Awards.

He has been referred to as “omnivorous” by critics, and possesses a more eclectic repertoire than is typical for classical musicians. In addition to numerous recordings of the standard Classical repertoire, he has recorded American bluegrass music; traditional Chinese melodies;the tangos of Argentinian composer Ástor Piazzolla; Brazilian music; and an eclectic and unusual collaboration with Bobby McFerrin

Innovation, to grow organically from within, has to be based on an intact tradition, so our idea is to bring together musicians who represent all these traditions, in workshops, festivals, and concerts, to see how we can connect with each other in music. Yo-Yo Ma

There’s a part of me that’s always charging ahead. I’m the curious kid, always going to the edge. Yo-Yo Ma

He is known for his smooth, rich tone as well as his considerable virtuosity, including a cello recording of Niccolò Paganini’s 24th Caprice for solo violin, Zoltán Kodály’s solo sonata, and other demanding works.

Ma’s primary performance instrument is the cello nicknamed Petunia, built by Domenico Montagnana in 1733. It was named this by a female student who approached him after one of his classes in Salt Lake City asking if he had a nickname for his cello. He said, “No, but if I play for you, will you name it?” She chose Petunia, and it stuck. This cello, more than 270 years old and valued at US$2.5 million, was lost in the fall of 1999 when Ma accidentally left the instrument in a taxicab in New York City. It was later recovered undamaged.

I’ve been traveling all over the world for 25 years, performing, talking to people, studying their cultures and musical instruments, and I always come away with more questions in my head than can be answered.Yo-Yo Ma

My teacher, my great cello teacher Leonard Rose, was such a great cellist, and nurturing man, very patient.


But I grew up not only admiring him, but obviously Casals, Rostrotovich, Jacqueline du Pre, and many others, including many of my peers and contemporaries. Yo-Yo Ma

The thing that I’ve always been slightly frustrated with, was that the idea of a CD is kind of confined to a material possession that you can put on a shelf. And the idea of music, for me, is always about both the communication and the sharing of content. And so the interactive part is missing. Yo-Yo Ma

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