Yo-Yo Ma

A renowned cellist describes the value of deep relationships and collaborative learning in education, and the power of music to build community, empathy, and imagination.

By Team XQ

Award Winning Cellist, Board Member, XQ Institute

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma was born in 1955 to Chinese parents living in Paris. He began to study the cello with his father at age four and moved with his family to New York, where he continued his musical studies and greatly excelled. He sought out a liberal arts education to expand upon his conservatory training, graduating from Harvard College in 1976. In 1998, Ma founded Silkroad, an organization that seeks to create meaningful change at the intersections of the arts, education, and business. In 2018, Ma began a new journey, setting out to perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s six suites for solo cello in one sitting in 36 locations around the world, iconic venues that encompass cultural heritage, creativity, and the challenges of peace and understanding. Ma serves as a UN Messenger of Peace, a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, and a member of the Emerson Collective. He and his wife, Jill Hornor, have two children.