NPR logo

Yo-Yo Ma Picks Music Contest Winners

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/99471671/99497983" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Yo-Yo Ma Picks Music Contest Winners

Yo-Yo Ma Picks Music Contest Winners

Hear The Winners' Music Below

Yo-Yo Ma Picks Music Contest Winners

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/99471671/99497983" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Hear The Winners

Yo-Yo Ma-tal

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/99471671/99453236" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Dona Nobis Pacem

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/99471671/99453232" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Yo-Yo Ma's Original

This solo cello version is what the contestants originally downloaded. Their challenge was to add their own performance to it.

Yo-Yo Ma's Solo Version Of 'Dona Nobis Pacem'

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/99471671/99455883" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Heavy-metal guitarist Toshi will soon make music with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Courtesy of Toshi O hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of Toshi O

Contest co-winner Kevin McChesney directs the Pikes Peak Ringers, a hand-bell choir from Colorado. Courtesy of Kevin McChesney hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of Kevin McChesney

Yo-Yo Ma issued a challenge to musicians last fall to play a virtual duet with him online. Now, he's chosen two winners who will perform with him for real. Michael O'Neill hide caption

toggle caption Michael O'Neill

Last fall, Yo-Yo Ma issued a special challenge to anyone interested in making music with him. The idea sprang from his fall CD release, which featured Ma in collaboration with famous musicians such as Alison Krauss, Paquito D'Rivera and James Taylor.

Ma encouraged musicians of any stripe to download his own version of the traditional tune "Dona Nobis Pacem," then add their own rendition, mix the two and upload the result to the music site indabamusic.com.

Now, after listening to 354 submissions, Ma has chosen not one, but two winners — hear him pick the winning entries by clicking the link above — whose musical DNA couldn't be more opposite. Toshi is a native of Japan whose father wanted him to learn their country's traditional music.

"Instead, I chose to bang my head," Toshi says. "That was the beginning of my heavy-metal history. Thanks to Iron Maiden. I formed my very first band when I was 15."

Now, Toshi writes music for his band Antiquus, based in Vancouver.

From the opposite end of the aural spectrum comes the gently clanging tones of hand bells, courtesy of composer and arranger Kevin McChesney. His music has won him a number of awards, and he now directs the Pikes Peak Ringers from his home in Colorado Springs, Colo.

As winners, both Toshi and McChesney now have the opportunity to collaborate with Yo-Yo Ma face to face.

Related NPR Stories

Web Resources

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.