Press: Yo-Yo Ma's Bach Project at Kirstenbosch

November 11, 2019

In just a few months, cellist Yo-Yo Ma makes his long-awaited South African debut at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. On Saturday, 8 February at 7pm, Mr Ma will perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello without interval; his visit to Cape Town is part of his global Bach Project, presented locally by Showtime Management. Tickets on sale at Webtickets.

In August 2018, Yo-Yo Ma began the Bach Project, a two-year journey to play Johann Sebastian Bach’s six suites for solo cello thirty-six times on six continents. Since the project began, Yo-Yo has performed this extraordinary music in iconic and surprising locations including the Odeon of Herodes Atticus on the Acropolis in Athens, the ancient Huaca Pucllana in Lima, the Sydney Opera House, and Millennium Park in Chicago.

The Bach Project is a journey motivated not only by Yo-Yo Ma’s six-decade relationship with this 300-year-old music, but also by Bach’s ability to speak to our common humanity at a time when our civic conversation is so often focussed on division. ”We live in a world of boundless possibility, but we also face daunting challenges, even to our very survival. I believe that during times of stress, confusion, and insecurity, we should share sources that offer comfort, purpose, and meaning. Bach does that. When his music touches us, it reconnects us to our common humanity,” says Yo-Yo Ma.

Alongside each concert, Mr Ma and his team partner with artists and culture makers, cultural and community organizations, and leaders from across sectors to design conversations, collaborations, and performances. Together with the concerts, these “days of action” invite us all to think differently about the role of culture in society, exploring and celebrating all the ways that culture makes us stronger as individuals, as communities, as a society and as a planet. In Cape Town, as it does all over the world, the Bach Project will explore how culture helps us to find truth, build trust, and act in service of one another. #CultureConnectsUs

Programme: Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello.

Bach’s six cello suites each unfold in six movements — 36 movements in all: Suite No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007; Suite No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1008; Suite No. 3 in C major, BWV 1009; Suite No. 4 in E flat major, BWV 1010; Suite No. 5 in C minor, BWV 1011; Suite No. 6 in D major, BWV 1012.

Yo-Yo Ma’s multi-faceted career is testament to his enduring belief in culture’s power to generate trust and understanding. Whether performing new or familiar works from the cello repertoire, collaborating with communities and institutions to explore culture’s social impact, or engaging unexpected musical forms, Mr Ma strives to foster connections that stimulate the imagination and reinforce our humanity. “We are all cultural beings,” he has said. “Let’s explore how culture connects us and can help to shape a better future.”

Yo-Yo Ma was born in 1955 to Chinese parents living in Paris. He began to study the cello with his father at age four and three years later moved with his family to New York City, where he continued his cello studies with Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School. After his conservatory training, he sought out a liberal arts education, graduating from Harvard University with a degree in anthropology in 1976. He has collaborated with artists including jazz singer Bobby McFerrin, guitarist Carlos Santana and singer-song writer and guitarist James Taylor. Mr Ma’s discography of over 100 albums (including 19 Grammy Award winners) reflects his wide-ranging interests. He has been a United Nations Messenger of Peace since 2006 and is the first artist ever appointed to the World Economic Forum’s board of trustees. He has received numerous awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2010) and the J. Paul Getty Medal (2016). Mr Ma has performed for eight American presidents, most recently at the invitation of President Obama on the occasion of the 56th Inaugural Ceremony.

Yo-Yo Ma has taken the Bach Project across the globe — and early next year, he brings the Project’s mix of performance, conversation, and cultural action to Cape Town. Book now for the one-night-only concert by Yo-Yo Ma at Customers without credit cards can book online and pay in any Pick n Pay store nationwide. Fans are encouraged to only book through the official authorised ticketing agent. There are significant risks in buying from other sources and entry to the concert is not guaranteed.


To discover more about Yo-Yo Ma and the Bach Project, go to or follow #CultureConnectsUs on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.   


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