Watch: Yo Yo Ma plays Bach after receiving 2nd Covid jab

Watch: Yo Yo Ma plays Bach after receiving 2nd Covid jab


norman lebrecht

March 14, 2021

The cellist played for the joy of Bach after receiving his second Covid-19 vaccination at Berkshire Community College.



  • Cello cello says:

    Is it just me? Or did his playing actually improve? Seems like his intonation and bowing got better this past year, what a true genius

  • Seriously? says:

    The security guy is like “huh, what kind of violin is that? Eh, whatever, back to candy crush…”

  • Derrick says:

    This kind of un-substantive positivity is annoying, as is its subtle totalitarianism that defends itself by saying “ohh you scrooge, you’re annoyed just because you’re against positivity!”.

    For most people in the States, getting a second shot is not much cause for celebration… because they lost all their money and now work, if they work at all, pay check to pay check at jobs that don’t afford them the privilege of feeling “in awe of” and “positive” about life.

    So, by playing this at the vaccination center, he is with implication celebrating ‘the amazing technocracy that saved us and got us the vaccine, now everything is great and back to normal!’
    Thus, these “displays of positivity” are actually deeply insulting to many people… including many of those who voted for Trump.
    Tom Frank’s “Listen Liberal” is a good read on this kind of culture, he writes: “There are consequences to excessive hope, just as there are for other forms of intemperance”.

    • Bob Patrick says:

      You must be fun at parties.

    • Eden says:

      So playing a Bach Cello Suite is an insult to Trump voters? Does Trump even know who Bach is, let alone Yo Yo Ma? If any voter would denigrate or throw shade on one of the world’s great artists for simply playing Bach—or for seeing a hostile agenda here—well, I hope that voter goes the way of the dinosaur. I can’t imagine such a twisted viewpoint.

      • Alex says:

        Bach = German

        Drumpf (Trump) = German

        Both were good White folk who cared about God and people although Trump did come off as being pretty abrasive. The sheeple are more concerned about the abrasiveness than what the man accomplished. He was the last hope for America. We will be like Brazil in 10 years, a country where it’s too dangerous to even stop at a red light since armed robbers view people and their vehicles like free buffet items.

    • Stephen Owades says:

      What a truly stupid comment! Speaking as one of those “people in the States” with special risk factors for Covid, I was extremely grateful to the scientific researchers who developed these vaccines, to the pharmaceutical companies that manufactured and distributed them, and to the medical personnel who administered them. I’m not at all insulted by a display of “positivity” by Yo-Yo Ma or anyone else receiving a vaccination.

      • Derrick says:

        Or, maybe I’m writing about something that is very hard to articulate yet speaks to an important truth; I’m talking about a wider societal/cultural type of phenomenon that this kind of gesture is embedded in and that it exemplifies. Of course Yoyoma is doing it only out of good intentions.

        Maybe the large handful of people who liked my post see something in it and aren’t just despicable people to be insulted.

        • buxtehude says:

          I’m beginning to get it now, thanks to your persistence, the gesture that becomes clear in an epiphenomanal sense once we can take the long view, climb the tall ladder as is were and bring a proper meta-consciousness into focus.

          From atop this ladder Ma’s totalitarianism looks a good deal less subtle than you suggest. It might have been a truer, grander gesture had he left his axe at home and shot up the college instead, certainly the jabbers and maybe too the happiest of the jabbees, what do you think?

        • Eden says:

          Who are “most people” whom you claim to know how they’re feeling upon getting their second shot? Have you personally surveyed the millions who’ve gotten theirs? That’s the first false assumption you make. And secondly, how can you claim to know Ma’s motives as he offered something beautiful that might serve to calm people’s nerves? Notice I said “might,” as I won’t claim to know the impact of his playing. If a high school kid had played her cello at the vaccine site would you ascribe to a cultural phenomenon? Have we become so jaded, cynical, and hateful that playing Bach in a public space is viewed as politically hostile? Why do you follow a classical music website if you consider the sharing of great music to be an expression of spurious cultural gestures? It just doesn’t make any sense.

    • BruceB says:

      Goodness, that’s a lot of… interpretation.

  • Petros LInardos says:

    Wonderful, in many ways.

  • Lissa Lord says:

    He demonstrates the joy and gratitude that fills one’s soul after that second shot! Bach, what else would reflect the reaction of relief?

  • Freddynyc says:

    He is certainly a master at self-promotion…..

    • Beckmesser says:

      Cynical but true. There are many fine cellists alive and Yo-Yo Ma is a textbook example of the winner take all economy.

    • Nicholaz D. says:

      Americans are too kind. In Asia, security or police would come to him immediate and tell him to put the cello back in the case. They are very against individualistic actions, creativity, etc.

  • Lizzy says:

    Thank you very much Maestro!

  • Freda yang says:

    you should Google who Yo-Yo Ma is then you know he doesn’t need self promotion!