Thursday September 24, 2015

Yo-Yo Ma has crafted a soundtrack for your whole life

Listen 22:45

Master cellist Yo-Yo Ma joins Shad to discuss Songs from the Arc of Life, his new collaboration with longtime friend Kathryn Stott. The collection aims to express the stages of our experience, from birth to death, through music.

Ma reflects on the way music "codes" memory, how to find happiness despite life's inevitable challenges, and the lessons he's taking with him into his 60s. 

"From birth to the end of life, what is it that we hold on to?" he asks. 

WEB EXTRA | At the end of the interview, Shad hit Yo-Yo Ma with this Big Question: "Having meditated on the arc of life through music in the course of making this album, what's your biggest piece of life advice for the rest of us?"

Here's what he said in response:

Stay open. I think when people are afraid, we close up, we close ranks, we go into a shell, we become intolerant. Because we're trying to be self-protective.

Having friends, trusting people, collaborating, and being empathetic can lead to ... the scaffolding to get to hope.  For me, being open and being generous is huge. It actually can lead to happiness, oddly enough. 

Happiness, I think, is a byproduct of — I didn't say it, Freud said it — work and love … Hey, you suddenly realize, I'm happy.

Yo-Yo Ma

Audiences love Yo-Yo Ma for his solo cello suites but, as his latest collaboration confirms, he also plays well with others. (Fabiola Carletti/CBC)

Plus, watch Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott play The Swan, from Songs from the Arc of Life, below.