Watch: Yo Yo Ma stumbles on the Montreal subway

In a tribute act to Joshua Bell’s ancient shtick on the Washington Metro, the US cellist entertained Xmas shoppers this weekend at the Place des Arts in Yannicktown.

He does fine in Bach but gets into a bit of trouble accompanying Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.


The complete show was streamed on Facebook.

More inf  here on Ludwig Van.


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  • That’s exactly all it is, a gimmick. YY Ma has been an expert at this for decades. It is why he has watered down his artistry into New Agey nothingness.

    • Oh Jesus Christ. The night before Yo Yo Ma performed Bach six cello suites to a sold out concert hall in Montreal. His concert was so popular it was streamed live to a nearby church – also sold out. Yo Yo Ma made the extra effort of going to the church first, playing a short piece for them, before rushing over to the Maison Symphonique. If you doubt the musical merit of this, look up Christophe Huss’ review in Le Devoir (why not read also his interview with Yo Yo Ma last Saturday?).
      In the metro, he played a number of pieces – including Bach – and had local poets read their works. Later, he participated in a workshop on culture, technology, and artificial intelligence.

      Now, you might call it a gimmick that he got hundreds of people to flock to a metro station on a Saturday afternoon to listen to Bach and poetry readings; I tend to call it art.

      P-S: Unsuspecting audience and surprise performance? The whole thing was announced at least three days in advance.

    • He was born in 1955 and played for Kennedy when he was 7. So one could say that in “human musician years” he is now in his early 80’s.
      He can do whatever the hell he wants. Leave him alone.

    • How about a little more chiaro and not so much oscuro, Caravaggio? It seems to me that taking music to the people and cultivating a broad repertoire are both laudable goals.

  • Ah, don’t be such haters. He’s one of the greatest living musicians, and he’s having some fun. You naysayers are just jealous that he has been able to capitalize on his fame, make some money, and explore genres other than “classical”. Relax, enjoy some music! He’s much better at what he does than you are at whatever it is you do!

  • Now do you see what I mean saying the American scene has become stale and tired? But I’m sure his financial portfolio is healthy.

    • No, I don’t really see how this indicates that the American scene has become stale and tired. Could you enlighten us? For starters, this took place in Canada…

  • He played the Bach cello suites without intermission in a sold-out concert hall. There was a spill-over venue where people paid $20 to watch the video feed; he went there first to play briefly for them, so video wouldn’t be all they saw. Then he did the main concert. The next day he played in the subway instead of sitting alone somewhere and congratulating himself on the purity of his art. He didn’t have to do any of that extra stuff. I’ll tell you the people of Montreal were glad he did. Anybody who laments some perceived decline in his playing is welcome to sit up there next to him and play better.

  • ”In beauty faults conspicuous grow. The smallest speck is seen on snow”. – John Gay

    What a tasteless headline for YYM. !!

  • Yet another American going to Canada to take a job away from a Canadian… even in the subway!

    Just payback for Yannick coming to America, taking TWO jobs away from Americans.

  • I find YoYo Ma to be inspirational – not just for what he does, but for his willingnes to try and experiment. It is so easy to throw stones – a speciality of this blog. And some, it would seem, don’t see the glass to be 99.9% full, and so trumpet the glass being 0.1% empty !

  • He’s really good and is not arrogant.
    Let’s televise this to the world and remind people over and over again how good and egoless he is.

    …Not like he already has enough recognition or anything?

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