“Culture – the way we express ourselves and understand each other – can bind us together as one world.” This powerful sentence, superimposed on the New York City skyline, opens cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s recent video of the Prelude from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major.
The video takes the viewer on a global journey in just three minutes, interspersing footage of musicians, dancers, and artisans, and representing children of all ages and backgrounds throughout. The video culminates with a rallying hashtag: #cultureconnectsus.
This video also coincides with “The Bach Project,” Ma’s quest to perform all of Bach’s six cello suites at 36 locations around the world. Ma, who also serves as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant, will perform these works at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago's Millennium Park on Thursday, June 20, 2019 at 6:30 pm.
This free concert, presented by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) in partnership with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), will take place the evening before both organizations present the “Day of Action” in Chicago. Full programming for the Day of Action on Friday, June 21 will be announced at a later date.
In CSOA’s announcement of the concert, Ma explains how Bach’s music is one of many examples that shows how culture connects us: “For almost six decades, [the cello suites] have given me sustenance, comfort, and joy during times of stress, celebration, and loss. What power does this music possess that even today, after three hundred years it continues to help us navigate through troubled times? … [Culture] is an essential part of building a strong society.”