Yo-Yo Ma becomes UN peace ambassador

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has announced cellist Yo-Yo Ma will become a U.N. peace envoy. The 50-year-old New York musician will join other notables such as Jane Goodall, Wynton Marsalis and Elie Weisel.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recruited internationally acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma as a peace ambassador.

The New York-based musician is one of the most sought-after cellists in the world.

Ma, 50, was born in Paris and then moved to New York at the age of five to study music at the Julliard School.  He graduated from Harvard in 1976 and is known for his interpretations of Bach and Beethoven.

Not one to shy away from experimentation, Ma has veered into other forms of music including pop, Brazilian samba, jazz, tango and bluegrass. With more than 50 albums under his bow, he has collaborated with the likes of Bobby McFerrin, Egberto Gismonti  and Kathryn Stott.

Ma, who has played with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra a number of times, has 15 Grammys.

Ma was also the 1999 recipient of the Glenn Gould prize for musicianship.  Ma called the Canadian pianist one of his heroes.

Annan met with Ma on Thursday and confirmed the cellist would become a "peace envoy," joining a list of other notables such as environmentalist Jane Goodall, actor Michael Douglas, basketball player Magic Johnson, jazz musician Wynton Marsalis, opera singer Luciano Pavarotti and Nobel laureate Elie Weisel.

Peace envoys travel around the world delivering a message of peace.