Yo-Yo Ma performs free concert at Place des Arts Metro

No, the free concert was not in one of the venue's symphony halls — it was in the Metro station.

Performance explored 'connections and disconnections in contemporary lives'

World-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma gave Montrealers a special treat Saturday afternoon at Place des Arts Metro station. (CBC)

World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed a show at Place des Arts today.

No, the free concert was not in one of the venue's symphony halls — it was in the Metro station.

A statement on the Chinese-American musician's Facebook page says the show is meant to explore "connections and disconnections in contemporary lives."

The 63-year-old cellist's concert is part of what his website calls a "day of action" that will explore the topic of culture and its role in humanizing technology.

During the performance, Ma spoke to the crowd in French and performed a cello cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, inviting the crowd to sing along.

"I'm sure you all know this song that, for me, it signifies Montreal," said Ma.

Mashi Akiyama was of the 300 people who came out to see Ma perform at the Metro.

Akiyama's father was friends with Ma, so he was especially excited to see the great musician live.

"He sort of embodies the passion and the musicianship that transcends generations of people and continues to inspire," he said.

STM Chairman Philippe Schnobb told CBC after the concert that he and his team jumped at the chance to bring the world renowned cellist to the underground audience.

"We want to have that kind of spontaneous event in the Metro, bringing people together to hear music," he said. 

Schnobb said he picked Ma up from his hotel and the two took the Metro together. Ma said he remembered visiting Montreal as a child, coming to Expo 67 with his father.

With files from The Canadian Press, CBC's Sarah Leavitt