Tuesday, February 9, 1999

Publicity photo
Yo-Yo Ma with cello.

Yo-Yo Ma to perform
with Honolulu Symphony

By Tim Ryan


In the Honolulu Symphony's biggest artist coup in more than a decade, cellist Yo-Yo Ma will perform in a special concert next month at the Blaisdell concert hall.

Ma will join symphony Music Director Sam Wong at 7 p.m. March 17 to play Dvorak's cello concerto, op. 104 and Dvorak's Symphony No. 8, op. 88 when the orchestra's 100th anniversary season is announced.

"This concert should strike a cord with the local community and the world to prove once and for all that the cultural life of Honolulu is much more than just (the musical) Miss Saigon," said Michael Tiknis, symphony director. "The last time the symphony was mentioned in the New York Times was when the city (of Honolulu) was throwing us out of the concert hall."

(Tiknis is referring to the dispute with the city last year over plans to oust the orchestra from the concert hall for several weeks this fall to allow Miss Saigon to perform there for at least seven weeks during its classical season. The issue still isn't resolved and symphony and city officials are expected to meet next week.)

Tickets are $25 to $100 with the highest-priced ones including a post concert VIP reception at the Halekulani Hotel. Priority seating for current Honolulu Symphony subscribers is on sale now. Tickets for the public go on sale Feb. 22.

Ma, whose schedule is among the busiest of any artist in the world, last played with the Honolulu Symphony in 1986. Tiknis and Wong have been working on a way to get Ma here for the last 18 months. Ma will perform in Honolulu on his way back from concerts in the Far East, Tiknis said.

But Ma's appearance doesn't come cheap. Although Tiknis declined to say what Ma's fee is, the cellist "may be the most expensive the symphony has ever had for a single performance," he said. Symphony musicians and conductor Wong are contributing their services for the event, Tiknis said.

Tiknis said: "If Yo-Yo Ma is playing at a special performance to announce the 1999-2000 season, can you imagine the kind of season we're going to have? It's going to be spectacular."

Tiknis said the symphony has "invited" some of the world's greatest artists to perform on both the classical and pops side.

Ma, 44, has garnered 12 Grammy awards and recorded more than 50 albums.

He was born to Chinese parents living in Paris and began studying the cello when he was four. Ma spent his most formative years in New York at the Julliard School and graduated from Harvard University in 1976. He's noted for searching for new ways to communicate with audiences. To demonstrate how music serves as a means of communication in both Western and non-Western culture, Ma has immersed himself in native Chinese music and the music of the Kalahari bush people of Africa.

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