Yo-Yo Ma: "We live in a time that feels fractured, and Bach is a unifying factor"

14 September 2018, 15:42 | Updated: 17 September 2018, 15:49

By Kyle Macdonald

As he releases his third recording of Bach's suites for solo cello, we spoke to the great cellist about what this music means to him, and the world.

In an exclusive interview, Yo-Yo Ma has told Classic FM that he believes the music of Bach can bring people together at a time of division in society.

"We live in a time where many things feel kind of fractured," he said. "There’s an absence of really constructive civil discourse... Bach, music, is definitely a convener of different people and music certainly is a great convener, bringing people together."

The cellist has been playing with the music of Bach for 58 years, and has just released his third recording of the composer's suites for solo cello. In an interview broadcast on Sunday, he told Catherine Bott that the composer he first encountered aged four, has become something of a best friend to him.

"It’s like having a great best friend in each chapter of your life... a great companion, a person that is there to help you go through sticky wickets in life."

He also talked to Catherine about what he sees as the personal power of Bach's music for solo cello. "He feels your pain, he feels my pain, he feels everybody’s pain and everybody’s joy. People go through illnesses, exams and difficult periods…and somehow it’s supportive."

We spoke to Yo-Yo Ma in one of London's most beautiful Baroque buildings, the Christopher Wern-designed domed church of St. Stephen Walbrook. The cellist also treated us to a performance in the 17th-century church. Listen again to the complete programme here.

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Classical Music with Catherine Bott and Yo-Yo Ma will be broadcast on Classic FM at 9pm on Sunday 16 September.

You can get Yo-Yo Ma's brand new recording here, and you can help support the beautiful Baroque church he filmed in here.