Just in: Yo Yo Ma steps down from Silkroad Ensemble

A message from the eminent cellist:

Dear Friends,

Silkroad turns twenty next year. Like a teenager approaching adulthood, we are exploring our purpose in the world. For us, this means thinking about how to share what we have learned to build a more hopeful future. One thing we have discovered is the joy and significance of working as an ensemble, and at this turning point, we are formalizing a new approach to leadership that celebrates that collaborative spirit.

To this end, I am thrilled to hand over the artistic direction of Silkroad to Jeffrey Beecher, Nicholas Cords, and Shane Shanahan, three extraordinary colleagues who have taught me so much about collaboration, music, and friendship. Together with Silkroad’s executive director, Eduardo A. Braniff, these inaugural co-artistic directors will shape the next chapter of Silkroad, bringing the passion and curiosity that we have developed to new communities and inspiring the radical cultural collaboration that is essential to creating a better world.

It is a journey that I will be privileged to share with them, and with all of you, as a cellist and a member of the Silkroad Ensemble. Please read their vision for Silkroad and join us.

With warmest wishes,

Yo-Yo Ma

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  • Hilarious.
    “…we are exploring our purpose in the world…” Who isn’t?
    “…bringing the *passion*…” …probably the most sh*g*ed out cliché in the book
    “….radical cultural collaboration…” obligatory identity politics statement to get public funding?
    “Silk Road” is a pretty grotesque misnomer coming out of Boston, MA., when its real meaning is a far-east trade route project being pushed by China with the long-term goal of side-stepping American full-spectrum dominance aspirations, particularly of the naval variety.
    Maybe the ensemble should rename itself “Old Silk Road” to avoid confusion?

    • Not that any of this matters, but:

      (a) The group is 20 years old.
      (b) The “New Silk Road” didn’t exist when this group was named.
      (c) The term “Silk Road” is centuries old, e.g. it was already long established by the time Marco Polo travelled on it in the 13th century.

  • From its website, a mission statement in all-caps:


  • I’m confused by this corporate-speak too. “radical cultural collaboration” “to new communities” — should they maybe reach out to Andre Rieu?

  • So he’s still going to play with them, just going to hand over the artistic direction to others. For it to be a viable entity, it can’t just rely on his star power, so OK.

  • As long as he promises to quit doing any more vanity crossover projects in the future, Silk Road related or not, I’m okay with this.

  • Wait, he’s not leaving, just giving up his role as artistic director, correct?

    At the end of the statement he says “It is a journey that I will be privileged to share with them, and with all of you, as a cellist and a member of the Silkroad Ensemble.”

    So according to this, he’s not leaving, per se. Seriously, what’s the BFD here?

  • Well, he has employed some wonderful people, if second-tier players in some respect.
    What I would like to see Ma do now is work to restore the Solo Artist touring program of the NEA that established his career, without which he’d be nobody.

  • Just come across this. What a miserable lot. I’ve had a great deal of pleasure listening to the Ensemble and discovered artists unknown to me and most people. Long may the work continue, and many thanks to Yo-Yo-Ma

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