Yo-Yo Ma playing Bach on a beach is proof that music has healing powers

4 March 2022, 16:56

By Kyle Macdonald

Sometimes, the world just needs Bach. And in these moments, the great cellist of our times always steps up.

Wearing a casual gilet and sneakers, great cellist Yo-Yo Ma walks alone onto the beach. Sitting beside his cello case he plays the Prelude to J.S. Bach’s Cello Suite No. 2 in D minor.

This takes place on a grey day at Crane Beach, which is a few miles from his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The movement Yo-Yo Ma chose opens with a slow ascending arpeggio. The music continues to push higher and higher, before being consumed by a flow of semiquavers.

This was a musical message for the world, which opened a virtual concert for the World Economic Forum and Davos Agenda 2021. All the musicians who took part said they wanted to share “a spirit of trust, connection and hope” in the midst of the pandemic.

Read more: Yo-Yo Ma on how Bach helps us rebuild after disruption and tragedy

The searching mood of this beautiful Bach prelude, and the raw simplicity of this video, resonated deeply with the world at the time of the performance.

You can watch the entire concert titled See Me: A Global Concert online here. Along with Yo-Yo Ma, it features sand artist Jim Denevan, and ensembles and choirs from Afghanistan, Austria, Italy, Brazil, the US, and China, all brought together (virtually) by star conductor and the event's Music Director, Marin Alsop.