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String Teacher Workshops

Yo Yo Ma Dress Rehearsal

On Monday, October 4, 1993, a group of fifty String Academy students, parents and faculty observed cellist and SAW Advisory Board member Yo Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott prepare for a duo recital that evening in the Pabst Theater. Here are the impressions of SAW Cello Faculty member Trischa Seaman.

Yo Yo Ma, David Anderson, Trischa Seaman, and students after the performance

Yo Yo Ma, David Anderson, Trischa Seaman, and students after the performance

“A warring animal”… “a donkey” … “an arrogant man.”

These were some of the delightful responses String Academy students came up with when asked by Yo Yo Ma, “What does this music remind you of now?” On October 4th, many young cellists, violists, violinists, parents and teachers enjoyed a once-inlifetime opportunity: attending Mr. Ma’s rehearsal.

The music world, indeed the whole world, is lucky to have Yo Yo Ma, an artist of the highest level and a distinguished ambassador of classical music. With several appearances on “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” and “Sesame Street” to his credit, along with regular master classes for high school and college students around the world, Mr. Ma has demonstrated his profound dedication to the musical education of young people. As we trooped into the Pabst Theater, Mr. Ma and Kathryn Stott were intensively rehearsing the Andante movement of the Sonata in G Minor by Gabriel Faure.

The audience was serious and courteously quiet. Mr. Ma stopped the rehearsal, turned to the audience, and said, “Hi, my name is Yo  Yo. How are you?” The audience relaxed, immediately sensing the friendliness and warmth of this great cellist. By asking children questions (“Who was Napoleon?”) and allowing children on stage (Elyse Underhill and her father Roy turned pages for Kathryn Stott), the String Academy students felt involved in the wonderful process of making music.

The impressions left by Yo Yo Ma were deep and long-lasting. Physically, Mr. Ma’s freedom of movement and fluid motions noticeably inspired the same in my cello students. Technically, Mr. Ma’s laser-like focus and facility opened the students’ eyes to the necessity of good technique. Emotionally we were lifted to new planes and reminded of what music can do for the spirit.

Trischa Seaman

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