BBC Music Magazine
Yo-yo Ma bridges borders with JS Bach
‘I’ve lived my life at the borders,’ explained cellist Yo-yo Ma about his recent appearance in Laredo, Texas. ‘Between cultures. Between disciplines. Between musics. Between generations.’ Ma performed Bach’s Suite
No. 1 for solo cello next to the Juarez-lincoln International Bridge, which links the US with Mexico, to express his feelings about plans to build a wall between the two countries – a mirror image, of you like, of cellist Mstislav Rostropovich’s famous performance in front of the Berlin Wall in 1989 to celebrate its imminent destruction. Ma had intended to play on the bridge itself, but that idea was scrapped for fear of causing traffic chaos. His performance was part of a day of celebrations in both Laredo and, on the other side of the border, Nuevo Laredo, aimed at highlighting the cities’ cultural common ground. ‘In culture, we build bridges, not walls,’ said Ma, who was presented with a ceremonial key by Laredo’s mayor, Pete Saenz.