Magazine article Strings

A Holiday Homecoming

Magazine article Strings

A Holiday Homecoming

Article excerpt

Decorated cellist YO-YO MA, the nicest guy in classical music, dubs his new album Songs of Joy and Peace (Sony Classical) one of the most collaborative projects of his career. Strategically released in time for the holidays, the album features festive arrangements and new compositions from some of the many friends Ma has made over the past three decades. On the strings side, you'll hear bassists EDGAR MEYER and JOHN clayTON, and fiddler NATALIE MACMASTER. Other guests include jazz greats Dave Brubeck and Paquito D'Rivera, the Assad brothers, jazz vocalist Diana Krall, and folk star James Taylor.

"It was one of the most personal things I've done in my career," Ma says, "because I was so involved in thinking through the following [question]: 'We're gonna have a party, who's gonna come to it?' The choice of people was very personal in a way."

The personal project was inspired by Ma's family tradition of attending a holiday community celebration at which the audience sings the three-part canon Dana Nobis Pacem (Give Us Peace). Ma opens with a variation of this song, and a few of the featured artists spin off of this concept as well as perform their own family tunes. "I had no idea how it was going to come out because that was just maybe a throw-away idea," Ma says, "but I like the idea of developing a concept that you're willing to change ... so, there was an organic development as they started improvising. I thought, 'This is amazing.' Then we changed the title from Songs of Joy to Songs of Joy and Peace because that peace element was becoming stronger and stronger. …

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