One hour and 20 minutes into his marathon recital of Bach’s suites for unaccompanied cello at Leipzig’s historic Nikolaikirche, as applause erupts after the Fourth Suite, Yo-Yo Ma does something at once strange and typical. Cello in one hand, he hops off the podium and starts jumping up and down, waving his arms and beaming as he encourages the audience to join him in an impromptu aerobics class. Then, quick as a flash, silence is restored, focus regained, and he launches into the sombre Fifth Suite. "People know when they come they’re signing up for two hours and 15 minutes of uninterrupted music, but it’s nice to sort of say, ‘I see you and I know the pews may be hard’," Ma explains with a laugh when we meet at Kaffeehaus Riquet, just around the corner from the church, for brunch the next morning. "Music gives you a ton of information subliminally; it’s not just an aural performance, it’s visual, it’s the body language you’re receiving from the audience and relaying back," he adds...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, Morningstar financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.