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This I Believe - Yo-Yo Ma

From: This I Believe
Series: This I Believe
Length: 03:06

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma believes in embracing many cultures and finding something to love in each of them. Read the full description.

Tiblogosmall_small HOST: For our This I Believe essay today, we hear from one of the world's most accomplished and versatile musicians, the cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The recipient of 15 Grammy Awards, Yo-Yo Ma has the ability to speak, musically, to audiences all over the world. The range of his musical interest is echoed in his belief in crossing borders, boundaries, and even identity. Here is Yo-Yo Ma with his essay for This I Believe. MA: I believe in the infinite variety of human expression. I grew up in three cultures: I was born in Paris, my parents were from China and I was brought up mostly in America. When I was young, this was very confusing: everyone said that their culture was best, but I knew they couldn't all be right. I felt that there was an expectation that I would choose to be Chinese or French or American. For many years I bounced among the three, trying on each but never being wholly comfortable. I hoped I wouldn't have to choose, but I didn't know what that meant and how exactly to "not choose." However, the process of trying on each culture taught me something. As I struggled to belong, I came to understand what made each one unique. At that point, I realized that I didn't need to choose one culture to the exclusion of another, but instead I could choose from all three. The values I selected would become part of who I was, but no one culture needed to win. I could honor the cultural depth and longevity of my Chinese heritage, while feeling just as passionate about the deep artistic traditions of the French and the American commitment to opportunity and the future. So, rather than settling on any one of the cultures in which I grew up, I now choose to explore many more cultures and find elements to love in each. Every day I make an effort to go toward what I don't understand. This wandering leads to the accidental learning that continually shapes my life. As I work in music today, I try to implement this idea-that the music I play, like me, doesn't belong to only one culture. In recent years, I have explored many musical traditions. Along the way, I have met musicians who share a belief in the creative power that exists at the intersection of cultures. These musicians have generously become my guides to their traditions. Thanks to them and their music I have found new meaning in my own music making. It is extraordinary the way people, music and cultures develop. The paths and experiences that guide them are unpredictable. Shaped by our families, neighborhoods, cultures and countries, each of us ultimately goes through this process of incorporating what we learn with who we are and who we seek to become. As we struggle to find our individual voices, I believe we must look beyond the voice we've been assigned, and find our place among the tones and timbre of human expression.

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Piece Description

HOST: For our This I Believe essay today, we hear from one of the world's most accomplished and versatile musicians, the cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The recipient of 15 Grammy Awards, Yo-Yo Ma has the ability to speak, musically, to audiences all over the world. The range of his musical interest is echoed in his belief in crossing borders, boundaries, and even identity. Here is Yo-Yo Ma with his essay for This I Believe. MA: I believe in the infinite variety of human expression. I grew up in three cultures: I was born in Paris, my parents were from China and I was brought up mostly in America. When I was young, this was very confusing: everyone said that their culture was best, but I knew they couldn't all be right. I felt that there was an expectation that I would choose to be Chinese or French or American. For many years I bounced among the three, trying on each but never being wholly comfortable. I hoped I wouldn't have to choose, but I didn't know what that meant and how exactly to "not choose." However, the process of trying on each culture taught me something. As I struggled to belong, I came to understand what made each one unique. At that point, I realized that I didn't need to choose one culture to the exclusion of another, but instead I could choose from all three. The values I selected would become part of who I was, but no one culture needed to win. I could honor the cultural depth and longevity of my Chinese heritage, while feeling just as passionate about the deep artistic traditions of the French and the American commitment to opportunity and the future. So, rather than settling on any one of the cultures in which I grew up, I now choose to explore many more cultures and find elements to love in each. Every day I make an effort to go toward what I don't understand. This wandering leads to the accidental learning that continually shapes my life. As I work in music today, I try to implement this idea-that the music I play, like me, doesn't belong to only one culture. In recent years, I have explored many musical traditions. Along the way, I have met musicians who share a belief in the creative power that exists at the intersection of cultures. These musicians have generously become my guides to their traditions. Thanks to them and their music I have found new meaning in my own music making. It is extraordinary the way people, music and cultures develop. The paths and experiences that guide them are unpredictable. Shaped by our families, neighborhoods, cultures and countries, each of us ultimately goes through this process of incorporating what we learn with who we are and who we seek to become. As we struggle to find our individual voices, I believe we must look beyond the voice we've been assigned, and find our place among the tones and timbre of human expression.

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Review of This I Believe - Yo-Yo Ma

Nice read and strong thoughts from cellist Yo-Yo Ma - suitable for your classical music programming, classical music imaging and as a fundraising option.

This is not just a "classical" programming option. His points about music serving as a meeting place for citizens from different cultures, and people with different views, makes this a strong fit for a variety of public radio formats.

For example, "Every day I make an effort to go toward what I don't understand. This wandering leads to the accidental learning that continually shapes my life."

Edit this piece, as needed, to fit within the constraints of your station's fundraising and standard break-length philosophies - with the permission of the Licensor (This I Believe).

Related Website

http://www.thisibelieve.org