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Yo-Yo — Why do you make music?
What is the role of musicians in the world?
And what does the world need from us today?
OAcademy 2022 fellow Petra Leona Maestre (violin, Venezuela) posed this opening question to OAcademy collaborator Yo-Yo Ma in a recent learning session co-designed with BroadBand Collaborative. And thus, a transformative 90-minute conversation unfolded between Yo-Yo Ma and OAcademy’s 2022 Cohort of 100+ top rising musicians around the world.
“Music is about empathy,” responded Yo-Yo — putting down his cello from an impromptu performance of “Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen,” the iconic American spiritual. “In the last years, we’ve all seen trouble. Through music — using our heads, our hearts, and our hands — we can express the sentiment of reaching out and understanding. This is the essence of being human, which music so powerfully expresses.”

Part of graduation week for OAcademy’s 2022 Cohort of musicians — having connected with and been inspired by Yo-Yo Ma at different points during their 6-month journey — the conversation offered a chance for participants to reflect with Ma on the next steps in their career goals, beyond the OAcademy classroom.

“I feel so fortunate to have been part of OAcademy,” shared Liza Saracina (oboe, USA). “Like many in OAcademy 2022, I’ve been inspired to give back in new ways. In my case, this path has brought me here to the Galapagos islands, where I am working for the non-profit Galápagos Conservancy — supporting efforts to sustain and conserve one of the most beautiful places in the world. OAcademy’s holistic approach helped me to discover the next steps in my life as a musician committed to the environment.”

“Making music always starts with listening,” reflected Yo-Yo Ma. “Because listening is the essence of being in service to your fellow humans. I’m so impressed by what I’ve seen of this through all of your work at OAcademy. It’s like a dream come true — 40+ countries coming together and participating in a unified music project. OAcademy is not about nation-building, it’s about culture building. This is something I hope you can carry with you across all your networks for the rest of your lives.”

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