We had acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma on the program last night. He’s in town to participate in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s RIVERS festival. Also with him was Martha Gilmer, the CSO’s vice president for artistic planning.
I bet if most Americans had to name a famous cellist, the name most people would come up with would probably be Yo-Yo Ma. Agree?
One of the benefits of this job is that I occasionally get to meet famous people of accomplishment. But it’s risky to meet someone whose work you admire. What if he or she turns out to be a jerk, prickly or full of themselves? Then it becomes harder to like the person’s work and you’re deprived of that pleasure.
I won’t mention names, but I have encountered a few people of renown whose work has lost some of its luster after I met them in person. (I know–I should be able to separate the art from the artist!)
This is a roundabout way of saying that in person, Yo-Yo Ma is gracious, friendly, personable and downright charming. When you combine his human decency and good manners with a sharp mind and blazing talent–it’s no wonder he’s having a remarkable career and is in such demand. There’s an old adage in business: “People like doing business with people they like.” I bet that’s true in any field, including music.
So go ahead and listen to Yo-Yo Ma’s music anytime. Your pleasure should be enhanced knowing that underneath that sumptuous music is a great guy! Here’s the interview in case you missed it: