Author: Kelly Dean Hansen, Camera Classical Music Writer

DAILY CAMERA: Yo-Yo Ma gives effortless, deeply-felt solo concert at Macky

CU venue not likely soon to see another such performance

In almost 20 years of attending classical music concerts in Boulder, and after 14 years of writing about these concerts in various forms for the Camera, this writer has never experienced anything quite like the scene at Macky Auditorium on Wednesday night.

After it was announced almost a year ago that Yo-Yo Ma — often considered the world’s greatest cellist and easily one of the most recognizable names among active classical performers — would headline the 80th anniversary season of the University of Colorado’s Artist Series, it didn’t take long for Macky to sell out completely, even with elevated ticket prices.

Many high-profile artists have failed to sell out the 2000-seat auditorium, a venue whose size is unusual for a city of Boulder’s population. Something about Ma is different, and it’s not that easy to define. Yes, his artistry is matchless, and yes, he is a tireless ambassador for both music and humanity, but everybody in attendance experienced it simultaneously when he walked onto the stage.

Before that, entry to the building was carefully controlled, resulting in the virtually unprecedented spectacle of multiple long lines forming outside the main doors. Even at that moment, it was clear that this would be a concert like no other. Once inside, what the crowd saw was a bare stage with a chair in the center.

Ma was presenting a solo concert with no pianist or other collaborators. Even chamber music or solo piano programs are often a dicey proposition in that hall, which is more suited for huge orchestras or opera productions. A single cello would seem dwarfed by those surroundings — but this cello was to be played by Yo-Yo Ma.

So came the moment. With his brilliant signature smile, the 61-year-old cellist, whose career now spans around four decades, walked out with his instrument — and the cheers were of a level not often heard even in the most enthusiastic standing ovation after a typical concert.

After amiable, ingratiating gestures to the crowd, he sat and played. The word “effortless” is sometimes overused to describe performance styles, but with Ma it is an understatement. On a solo cello recital, it was a given that the bulk of the program would be devoted to J.S. Bach’s six suites, and indeed Ma played three of them.

Read the full article

Upcoming Events View all events

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy

Loading
Dec 17, 2019

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy

A Celtic Family Christmas
Full price: $22-$87

The holidays truly become a family affair when married duo Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy—two of the globe's best and brightest fiddle play...

Cirque Mechanics

Loading
Jan 17, 2020

Cirque Mechanics

42FT – A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels
Full price: $20-$80

Cirque Mechanics' latest theatrical invention brings the lore of the one-ring circus to historic Macky Auditorium. With exhilarating thrills, death-de...

A Far Cry

Loading
Feb 8, 2020

A Far Cry

Memory
Full price: $15-$66

Known for its innovative, unpredictable approach, the conductor-less, Grammy-nominated string orchestra A Far Cry offers a fresh perspective on Mozart...

Latest News View all news items

Dec 10, 2019

Cirque Mechanics honors iconic one-ring…

On Friday, Jan. 17, Cirque Mechanics will bring the iconic lore of…

Nov 5, 2019

This December, the holidays are…

Nova Scotia native Natalie MacMaster came from a musical family. She grew…

Oct 8, 2019

Beethoven, the Avant-gardist

Though he is now known as one of the most remarkable classical…