Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Yo-Yo Ma Makes Me Cry

A couple of weeks ago, I was thrilled when my on-screen guide announced that the PBS Great Performances series was airing a show with the New York Philharmonic playing Carnegie Hall. I hit the record button faster than you can say Yo-Yo Ma, who was one of the featured artists. When, at last, I had time to sit down and give the recorded concert my full attention, I was not disappointed. Ma would be playing Beethoven, one of my favorite composers, who managed to incorporate every instrument in the orchestra, no matter how large or small in both bold and subtle ways.

Alan Gilbert is the New York Philharmonic's current conductor. He's engaging and drew me into the music immediately, both as a listener and as a musician. I began taking piano lessons when I was four years old and studied until I graduated from Connersville Senior High. I was one of three pianists in our orchestra all four years of school and enjoyed every minute of it. You wouldn't think it, but an orchestra has a smell. It's a combination of rosin, different kinds of wood, metallic brass, the musty smell of old sheet music and people all packed into a sound proof room. The music conjured up that happy memory. I love the idea of all the individuals, each with their own personality, talent and ability, forming the whole of the orchestra to become one.
As I was savoring the music of Beethoven, I was brought back to those high school days with their joy and sense of belonging to a like-minded community.
I was adrift in that reverie when Yo-Yo Ma appeared on stage and then things got even more magical. He began playing and my whole being was riveted to the television screen. His eyes were closed and his entire body took on an other worldly aura. He wasn't just playing the music, he was in the music. The music wasn't coming from his cello, it was coming from his core, his very essence. Yo-Yo Ma was smiling and crying at the same time. I realized I was crying too, because I knew that this is what bliss looks like. The bliss of doing what you love to do best, perhaps, what you were put on this earth to do.

I haven't played the piano in years, but when I'm writing and really lost in the words and the story, I feel blissful. I don't know if it shows outwardly, but I certainly feel it inside. It is a precious gift. My hope is that after we die our energy transforms into a state of bliss, whatever that bliss is for each of us.

Rebekah for The Poplar Grove Muse



  1. Beautifully stated Rebekah. Ecstasy is when we are in the "flow" and merge reaching a unity or oneness with the Universe-- through the music, the writing, the artwork, the creativity, or Nature.

  2. I share your wild admiration for Yo-Yo Ma, Rebekah. Back in the '90's, when we couldn't make a concert with the Yale Symphony, Chris and I attended a rehearsal; we were so impressed when, after Ma rehearsed his solo piece, he went to sit with the last stand cellist (who was no doubt having a heart attack!) for the rest of the rehearsal. What artistry and humility, always a winning combination. Thanks for sharing this heartfelt tribute. MKP