Lied hosts rare Yo-Yo Ma lecture Dec. 5

On Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m., the Lied Center for Performing Arts presents world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma in a very rare lecture as part of the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues. UNL students can obtain free tickets to the lecture at (General public tickets available at, at the Box Office at 12th and R Streets, or 402-472-4747.)

In this lecture, Yo-Yo Ma will address the vital role of culture and the arts and sciences in our society and the ways in which each of us – both cultural workers and general audiences – can come together to work as “cultural citizens.” Illustrating his words with music and examples of success, Ma will discuss why this expanded version of culture matters and what benefits it brings to us as individuals and societies. He will then identify some of the challenges that the arts and sciences as part of culture face, and how we can respond as cultural citizens in a way that makes culture a transformative force in our lives and those of the people around us.

"This is an extremely rare opportunity to witness perhaps the most well-known classical musician of our time not only speaking on the topics of creativity and culture, but playing his instrument as well," said Lied Center Executive Director Bill Stephan. "This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that few cities and arts presenters have the privilege of hosting."

Prior to Ma's lecture, Sheldon Museum of Art (12th and R Streets) will host a very special First Friday reception honoring The Creative World, the theme of this season's Thompson lecture series. Starting at 5 p.m. and ending at 7 p.m., the reception is free and open to the public. Attendees will have an opportunity to visit Sheldon's exhibitions and enjoy pop-up performances by the University Chamber Singers throughout the museum galleries and Great Hall. These small and varied mini-concerts will continue into the Lied Center lobby prior to Yo-Yo Ma's lecture. Musical offerings will include a broad variety of songs and carols sung in small groups and as an ensemble in and around the Sheldon and Lied Center spaces. Echoes of ancient and modern carols and masses, songs of contemporary composers featuring Carol Barnett, Eric Whitacre, and Morten Lauridsen; and a new work by Charlie Leftridge, a UNL graduate student composer and member of the Chamber Singers, will fill the air with “Sounding Art."

UNL student tickets:


Yo-Yo Ma’s multi-faceted career is testament to his continual search for new ways to communicate with audiences, and to his personal desire for artistic growth and renewal. Whether performing new or familiar works from the cello repertoire, coming together with colleagues for chamber music or exploring cultures and musical forms outside the Western classical tradition, Ma strives to find connections that stimulate the imagination.

He maintains a balance between his engagements as soloist with orchestras throughout the world and his recital and chamber music activities. He draws inspiration from a wide circle of collaborators, creating programs with such artists as Emanuel Ax, Daniel Barenboim, Christoph Eschenbach, Kayhan Kalhor, Ton Koopman, Bobby McFerrin, Edgar Meyer, Mark Morris, Riccardo Muti, Mark O’Connor, Kathryn Stott, Michael Tilson Thomas, Wu Man, Wu Tong, Damian Woetzel, and David Zinman.

Ma’s discography of over 90 albums (including more than 17 Grammy Award-winners) reflects his wide-ranging interests. Across this full range of releases, Ma remains one of the best-selling recording artists in the classical field. All of his recent albums have quickly entered the Billboard chart of classical best sellers, remaining in the Top 15 for extended periods, often with as many as four titles simultaneously on the list. In fall 2009, Sony Classical released a box set of over 90 albums to commemorate Ma’s 30 years as a Sony recording artist.

He was born in 1955 to Chinese parents living in Paris. He began to study the cello with his father at age four and soon came with his family to New York, where he spent most of his formative years. Later, his principal teacher was Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School. He sought out a traditional liberal arts education to expand upon his conservatory training, graduating from Harvard University in 1976. He has received numerous awards, including the Avery Fisher Prize (1978), the Glenn Gould Prize (1999), the National Medal of the Arts (2001), the Dan David Prize (2006), the Sonning Prize (2006), the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award (2008), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2010), the Polar Music Prize (2012) and the Vilcek Prize in Contemporary Music (2013). In 2011, Ma was recognized as a Kennedy Center Honoree. Appointed a CultureConnect Ambassador by the United States Department of State in 2002, Ma has met with, trained and mentored thousands of students worldwide in countries including Lithuania, Korea, Lebanon, Azerbaijan and China. Ma serves as a UN Messenger of Peace and as a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts & the Humanities. He has performed for eight American presidents, most recently at the invitation of President Obama on the occasion of the 56th Inaugural Ceremony.

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