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Cellist Yo-Yo Ma hopes to bring peace to Korea

Acclaimed Chinese-American cellist will perform in Seoul and DMZ

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma is to perform near the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas during his stay in Seoul for The Bach Project.

The cellist, 64, will perform J.S. Bach’s six cello suites for solo cello at the Olympic Park in Jamsil, eastern Seoul, as part of Credia Park Concert. The unaccompanied cello suites are iconic pieces that fully explore the instrument.

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma (Jason Bell / Credia)
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma (Jason Bell / Credia)

The Olympic Park performance is a part of Ma’s The Bach Project, which began in August, aiming to raise awareness of pertinent social and political issues surrounding cities where he is performing.

Inspired by how Bach’s six cello suites consist of a total of 36 movements, the tour is spread out across 36 cities on six continents over a period of two years. At each concert, Ma performs the 36 movements without an intermission.

Concerning the project, the Chinese-American cellist born in France has repeatedly said, “I want Bach to save the world,” claiming that Bach’s music can heal and bring people together.

While his previous concerts in April at cities near the US-Mexico border made a statement on the Trump administration’s immigration policy, the concert in Seoul will be about peace between South and North Korea.

In line with the cause, a day after the Sept. 8 concert, Yo-Yo Ma will participate in another concert at Dorasan Station in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, near the DMZ.

The DMZ concert, arranged by Korea Tourism Organization, marks the 1-year anniversary of the signing of a military agreement between the two Koreas in Pyongyang on Sept. 19, 2018.

Ma will take to the stage along with pianist Kim Cheol-woong, who defected from North Korea, indie duo Oksang Dalbit and other artists. About 300 people are expected to attend the concert, including North Korean defectors and local residents.

“Yo-Yo Ma, visiting Seoul for his concert, suggested he could take part in the DMZ concert,” an official from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said.

Meanwhile, Credia Park Concert, inspired by outdoor music concerts such as the BBC Proms and New York Philharmonic’s concerts in Central Park, aims to allow a wider audience to enjoy classical music. Soprano Jo Su-mi, conductor Chung Myung-whun, cellist Mischa Maisky and violist Richard Yongjae O’Neill took to the stage in previous editions.

By Im Eun-byel (