The Two-Way
1:49 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

Listen: Yo-Yo Ma Plays Bach's 'Cello Suite No. 5 in C Minor'

Originally published on Thu April 18, 2013 7:26 pm

Earlier today, President Obama led the city of Boston at an interfaith service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston.

It was an emotional tribute in which the President Obama vowed that Boston would finish the race.

The service was punctuated by a performance from Yo-Yo Ma, who chose the sarabande Bach's Cello Suite No. 5 in C Minor. It was haunting and beautiful, a piece that Ma also played following Sept. 11.

Yo-Yo Ma lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, across the river from Boston.

He told All Things Considered that he thinks of this piece as "a struggle for hope."

"The falling motion of most of the notes is contradicted by periodic rising notes. In the last bar of the piece," he said in an email, "all but one of the notes rise and I think that represents the strength of the human spirit and, today, the spirit of Boston."

We'll leave you with the performance:

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Earlier today, in Boston, mourners gathered to remember the dead with an interfaith service at the city's Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Among the speakers was President Obama, who delivered this message of resilience.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: When the Sox and Celtics and Patriots or Bruins are champions again, to the chagrin of New York and Chicago fans, the crowds will gather and watch a parade go down Boylston Street. And this time next year, on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever and to cheer even louder for the 118th Boston Marathon. Bet on it.

BLOCK: At that service in Boston, there was also music, notably from cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "CELLO SUITE NUMBER 5 IN C MINOR")

BLOCK: When he was asked to play, he instinctively turned to Bach. He chose the stark and hunting sarabande from Bach's unaccompanied "Cello Suite Number 5 in C Minor."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "CELLO SUITE NUMBER 5 IN C MINOR")

BLOCK: Yo-Yo Ma lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just across the river from Boston. And he told me today, he thinks of this piece as a struggle for hope. In an email, Yo-Yo Ma explained: The falling motion of most of the notes is contradicted by periodic rising notes. In the last bar of the piece, he said, all but one of the notes rise and I think that represents the strength of the human spirit and, today, the spirit of Boston.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "CELLO SUITE NUMBER 5 IN C MINOR") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.