World famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma is a frequent guest and good friend of The Philadelphia Orchestra but his appearances last week were his first subscription performances in 20 years. He joined Principal Guest Conductor Stéphane Denève to kick off the Orchestra’s two-week celebration of the music of John Williams, performing the composer’s Cello Concerto, written specifically for him. Ma and Denève were also special guests at the Orchestra’s Cello PlayIN, where over 100 cellists from the Philadelphia region performed alongside Ma and the entire cello section of the ensemble.
PlayINs are signature events for The Philadelphia Orchestra, and fall under the Access branch of the recently announced HEAR initiative, a portfolio of programs that promotes wellness, champions music education, eliminates barriers to accessing the Orchestra, and maximizes impact through research. PlayINs have taken place regularly since 2012, and are part of a full array of programs designed to promote access for people of all ages to experience orchestral music either as listeners or performers.
Yo-Yo Ma, Principal Guest Conductor Stéphane Denève, and the Orchestra rehearse John Williams’s Cello Concerto.
Denève and Ma acknowledge the applause from the capacity crowd after the Thursday evening performance.
Some of the younger cellists to attend the PlayIN warm up prior to the start. Photo by Pete Checchia
Philadelphia Orchestra cellist Robert Cafaro warms up with participants. Photo by Pete Checchia
Orchestra cellist Gloria dePasquale welcomes the crowd to the PlayIN. Photo by Pete Checchia
DePasquale, Denève, Ma, and Assistant Principal Cello Yumi Kendall lead the PlayIN. Photo by Pete Checchia
Ma addresses the PlayIN participants. Photo by Pete Checchia
Ma and Denève join the participants to acknowledge the audience’s applause. Photo by Pete Checchia
Ma and Denève are joined by violinist James Ehnes backstage following the Sunday afternoon concert. Ehnes joins Denève and the Orchestra this week for performances of Williams’s Violin Concerto, which closes the special John Williams Celebration.