Welcome To Yo-Yo's Playhouse Watch the superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma and many of his close friends from all over the world in action at a theatrical props warehouse in Brooklyn.

Field Recordings

Welcome To Yo-Yo's Playhouse

When you're lucky enough to have cellist Yo-Yo Ma and members of the Silk Road Ensemble, some of the world's premiere instrumentalists and composers, gather for an afternoon of offstage music making, you've got to think long and hard about where to put them. And we decided that the perfect match would be ACME Studio, a theatrical props warehouse in Brooklyn.

Over the years, we've been lucky enough to see, hear and get to know many of the Silk Road musicians in other settings. You may recognize several of them from Tiny Desk Concerts and other collaborations with NPR Music — including members of Brooklyn Rider, Chinese pipa virtuoso Wu Man, Iranian kamancheh virtuoso Kayhan Kalhor, Spanish bagpiper Cristina Pato, American percussionist Shane Shanahan and clarinetist Kinan Azmeh from Syria.

As we've had the opportunity to forge those bonds over time, we've gotten to know the warm, generous-spirited personalities that come along with these immense talents. We thought that setting them loose in a props house, where they could pick and choose among the curiosities for little elements to bring into the camera frame, would bring those aspects of their personalities into sharper focus. What we wound up with was a magical afternoon of play in all senses of the word — not just having the chance to record these virtuosos and their instruments in a spirited performance of John Zorn's Briel, here arranged by Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz, but also to capture them (and us) having an immense amount of fun.

(And, if you can't get enough, there's a bonus video featuring a quartet of Silk Road percussionists creating deep, and irresistible, grooves.)

Credits

Producers: Mito Habe-Evans, Anastasia Tsioulcas; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Saidah Blount, Nathan Fitch, Mito Habe-Evans, Becky Harlan, A.J. Wilhelm; Event Coordinator: Saidah Blount; Special Thanks: ACME Studio; Executive Producer: Anya Grundmann

[+] read more[-] less

More From World

Tamino plays a Tiny Desk Concert on June 5, 2019 (Shuran Huang/NPR). Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

Tamino

Tamino possesses one of the most remarkable and memorable voices to ever grace the Tiny Desk.

Laraaji performs a Tiny Desk Concert on April 8, 2019 (Amr Alfiky/NPR). Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

Laraaji

Laraaji is best known to some for his ambient work with Brian Eno in the late '70s. He brings his meditative calm to the Tiny Desk in this hypnotic performance.

Jupiter and Okwess perform a Tiny Desk Concert on July 20, 2018 (Samantha Clark/NPR). Samantha Clark/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Samantha Clark/NPR

Jupiter & Okwess

Jupiter Bokondji and his band Okwess play music that feels both African and American, with Jupiter's early musical tastes inspired by The Jackson 5, James Brown and the sounds of Motown.

Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage

LADAMA On Mountain Stage

The four women have coupled their musical passions with their desires to empower youth and women globally. Hear them perform "Porro Maracatu" and the protest song "Compared To What."

LADAMA On Mountain Stage

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/565523613/565655181" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage

Mokoomba On Mountain Stage

Hear the Zimbabwean Afro-fusion band blends traditional rhythms with funk, ska and soukous in their Mountain Stage debut.

Mokoomba On Mountain Stage

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/555305036/555351206" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Chronixx performs a Tiny Desk Concert on July 10, 2017. (Photo: Liam James Doyle/NPR) Liam James Doyle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Liam James Doyle/NPR

Chronixx

The Jamaican reggae star proudly carries the torch of his country's roots reggae legends.

Back To Top