Yo-Yo Ma just played Bach 100 metres underground at the Large Hadron Collider

19 September 2019, 20:56 | Updated: 19 September 2019, 20:59

By Kyle Macdonald

The collisions of two worlds: music and science – and a coming together of two of the epitomes of human endeavour.

Bach is everywhere. His glorious music is in the concert halls, on the streets, sung in schools and hospitals, soaring out of churches – and now, it’s also 100 metres underground.

American cellist Yo-Yo Ma, with his instrument, descends to the 27-kilometre circular tunnel of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, on the French-Swiss border.

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

With mandatory hard hat on, he takes out his instrument and serenades the depths with the Prelude from Bach’s Cello Suite No. 6. It’s the most unique and remarkable acoustic.

“I have always thought that philosophy, arts, and sciences belong together as equal partners in this thing we call culture,” Yo-Yo Ma said at the event. “We must fight for this belief. Because the widening gaps between disciplines of inquiry and between culture, economics, and politics have led to increasing and frightening fractures in the world.”

Bach himself was fascinated by the sciences of his time, having a life-long fascination with mathematics and numbers, creating complex formulas in his works and often hiding numerical messages and puzzles.

The Large Hadron Collider is a 27-kilometre ring of superconducting magnets. It collides beams of high-energy protons and ions at close to the speed of light, and helps scientists understand the conditions that existed within a billionth of a second after the Big Bang.