Yo-Yo Ma plays Bach in the shadow of the Texas border crossing: NPR



Yo-Yo Ma presented his Bach project to the sister cities of Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. The project uses the music of Johann Sebastian Bach to explore the links between cultures.

Lauren A. Terrazas / Texas Public Radio


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Lauren A. Terrazas / Texas Public Radio

Yo-Yo Ma presented his Bach project to the sister cities of Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. The project uses the music of Johann Sebastian Bach to explore the links between cultures.

Lauren A. Terrazas / Texas Public Radio

World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma presented his Bach project on Saturday to the sister cities of Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Laredo's "Day of Action" featured performances in both cities to celebrate the relationship between the two communities.

Ma played the opening notes of Johann Sebastian Bach's "Suite No.1 for unaccompanied cello" in a nearby park of the Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge, one of the crossings that connect cities American and Mexican.

Laredo 's performance took place on an elevated stage in front of a public composed of officials and spectators. Concerns about possible rain disappeared when Ma started playing in the morning sun.

It was part of his Bach project, which uses the composer's 300-year-old music to explore the links between cultures. The project took him around the world. On Friday, he took her to the Laurie Auditorium of Trinity University in San Antonio and Saturday in Laredo, just meters from the Rio Grande.

"As you all know, as you have done and will do in culture, we build bridges, not walls," he said. After his performance, he made a gesture towards the bridge on his right. "I have lived my life on the borders between cultures, between disciplines, between music, between generations."

Mateo Bailey, 16, lives in San Antonio. He grew up in El Paso, plays the cello and is the son of cellist Grammy Award winner, Zuill Bailey.

He felt that Ma's performance had a special meaning "because this event is on the border.And I'm both Mexican and American … bridge that has just been built, and that's unbelievable. "

Betty DeLeon congratulated the cellist for her visit. "It's about him, what a wonderful human being to take your time and come to our little town to share the importance of culture at the border.It's amazing.It's a privilege to be part of that. "

Pete Saenz, Mayor of Laredo, said that despite the river and despite the bridge overlooking the sky, the border is a community.

"And although people can perceive us as different, we are not," he said. "Here the border is extremely unique in that it's an organism, I've always said we're interdependent, interconnected.We have survived because the border side is surviving, especially here in the region border. "

This "day of action" also included a performance on Plaza Juarez in Nuevo Laredo, a few blocks from the international crossing. Its general theme was an appreciation of the links between the two cities, which consider themselves as one and the same community.

Ma had to play on the bridge itself, which would be briefly closed. The planned closure would have been a collaborative effort between officials and residents on both sides of the border. But delays in traffic and pedestrians would have prompted officials to move the scene to Tres Laredos Park, just off the bridge.

The famous cellist studied and interpreted the music of the German composer for six decades.

In 2018, Ma began a two-year journey to perform Bach's six cello suites in 36 locations around the world. He felt that music has the ability to connect cultures and humanity from all walks of life. He said that was what motivated him to launch the project.


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