Yo-Yo Ma played cello outside Russian Embassy in moving protest against Ukraine war

10 March 2022, 16:47

Yo-Yo Ma performs outside Russian embassy in Washington D.C.

By Siena Linton

Through music, the world’s best-loved cellist lends his voice to worldwide protests against Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Yo-Yo Ma has been filmed playing his cello outside the Russian embassy in Washington D.C. as Russia continues to wage war on Ukraine.

Stationed outside the gates, the world-famous cellist played a plaintive melody to passers-by, surrounded by messages of support for Ukraine.

A chalk mural on the pavement reads “Russia get out of Ukraine now”, and Ma also stands in front of a green street marker that was erected earlier in the week, renaming the street ‘President Zelensky Way’.

A makeshift sign renaming the road outside Washington's Russian embassy 'President Zelensky Way'
A makeshift sign renaming the road outside Washington's Russian embassy 'President Zelensky Way'. Picture: Alamy

The famed cellist, who performs in sold-out concert halls across the globe, apparently went quite unnoticed until one onlooker recognised him and asked, “Are you Yo-Yo Ma?”.

Ryan Stitt told a local TV broadcaster that, following a short conversation, Ma had said “Everyone has to do something”.

Read more: Ukrainian violinist plays to her bomb shelter in moving and powerful footage

During a concert in Washington’s Kennedy Center on Monday night, Yo-Yo Ma also performed an evocative rendition of Ukraine’s national anthem alongside pianist Emanuel Ax and violinist Leonidas Kavakos. In a show of respect, every audience member at the fully sold-out show stood solemnly as the trio played.

With this musical statement in support of Ukraine, Yo-Yo Ma joins a chorus of orchestras, opera companies, and fellow musicians who have used their art to show solidarity with Ukrainians and raise money for charities helping those displaced in the conflict, including New York’s Metropolitan Opera, a flashmob in London’s Trafalgar Square, and a pianist who travelled to the Ukraine–Poland border to play for refugees.