Yo Yo Ma’s National Geographic pitch

Yo Yo Ma’s National Geographic pitch


norman lebrecht

April 22, 2021

The cellist is fronting an environmental campaign in the glossy magazine:

Inside the small wood and stone dwelling, Frylinck and Sea Change co-founder Craig Foster told Ma about their campaign to protect what they call the Great African Seaforest, a swaying jungle of giant kelp that Frylinck likens to an untouched Amazon rainforest, with dense canopies of plants and flocks of fish that fly like birds through the currents. The activists showed Ma the percussion and other musical instruments that their team created from materials that washed up on the beach on Cape Town’s coast: shakers made from shark egg cases, a stringed instrument made from abalone shell, a drum made from a humpback whale ear bone. And they introduced Ma to South African singer Zolani Mahola, who had helped the group bring together instruments, music, and lyrics to fashion their sea-forest anthem.

Read on here.


  • Greg Bottini says:

    I love Yo-Yo more every time I read about him!

  • Tom says:

    The recording is beautiful but,
    This isn’t gonna much good, in fact, these kind of well funded (key phrase) displays might be doing harm in terms of garnering support for “good causes” because of the elitist culture they’re embedded in. ‘I don’t care about this soppy beauty stuff if it isn’t gonna help me escape poverty’ = Persons whose jobs depend upon raising the forests will think upon hearing a performance by YoYo and Zolani. You can’t just keep rubbing beauty in the face of people who are economically locked out of participating in it, and then expect them to “hear the music” (part of the reason why people became enraged/deranged Trumpites). As Tomas Frank puts it:

    “Regardless of who leads it, the professional-class liberalism seems to be forever traveling on a quest for some place of greater righteousness. It is always engaged in a search for some subject of overwhelming, noncontroversial goodness with which it can identify itself and under whose umbrella of virtue it can put across its self-interested class program…

    …You can find dozens of examples of this kind of liberal-class virtue-quest if you try, but instead of listing them, let me go straight to the point: This is not politics. It’s an imitation of politics. It feels political, yes: it’s highly moralistic, it sets up an easy melodrama of good versus bad, it allows you to make all kinds of judgments about people you disagree with, but ultimately it’s a diversion, a way of putting across a policy program while avoiding any sincere discussion of the policies in question. The virtue-quest is an exciting moral crusade that seems to be extremely important but at the conclusion of which you discover you’ve got little to show for it besides NAFTA, bank deregulation, and a prison spree.”

    YoYoMa is the neoliberal poster boy of the classical music world after all.

  • leo grinhauz says:

    OK, you asked for it: the problem with the “yoyoma” concept is that the bugger has merely made a name for himself throughout the decades but has done nothing for the advancement of the art form. The dude is more a musical mercenary than an artist. Its like the idiot amateur astronomer looking up at the sky and only recognizes the big dipper among the infinite number of stars and galaxies. YYM is for starfu—ers, and for those that know no better. How embarrassing.

    • Greg Bottini says:

      Your comment, leo grinhauz, is the most breathtakingly uninformed and stupid thing I’ve read all week.
      Tell me, o great sage, how have YOU “advanced the art form” compared to Yo Yo Ma????