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

Trupa Trupa plays a Tiny Desk (Home) Concert. NPR/NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR/NPR

Trupa Trupa (Home) Concert

The Polish rock band performed a Tiny Desk quarantine concert in Gdańsk basement.

Fabiano do Nascimento plays a Tiny Desk (home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Fabiano Do Nascimento (Home) Concert

The Brazilian-born guitarist performs a peace-inducing concert from his home in Los Angeles.

Coreyah plays a Tiny Desk (home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Coreyah (Home) Concert

The Seoul-based sextet performs music that blends Korean traditional music with modern sounds.

Taimane plays a Tiny Desk Concert (Laura Beltran Villamizar/NPR). Laura Beltrán Villamizar /NPR hide caption

toggle caption Laura Beltrán Villamizar /NPR

Taimane

Within the first moments of Taimane's magical set, we hear her play fiery flamenco, a famous phrase from the opera Carmen, a touch of Bach and more than a nod to her Hawaiian homeland.

Rising Appalachia performs during tiny desk on November, 19, 2019. (Photo by Mhari Shaw/NPR) Mhari Shaw/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Mhari Shaw/NPR

Rising Appalachia

The Atlanta-based band came to NPR in a van packed with a bodhrán (Irish drum), an ngoni (West African harp) a huge gourd, a cello, a baritone guitar and more.

Koffee plays a Tiny Desk Concert Laura Beltran Villamizar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Laura Beltran Villamizar/NPR

Koffee

The fast-rising teenager from Jamaica just won a Grammy for Best Reggae Album, making her the first woman and youngest artist to ever win in the category.

Snarky Puppy performs during a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 12, 2019. Emily Bogle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Emily Bogle/NPR

Snarky Puppy

The jazz, funk and gospel improv group brought jams and joy to the Tiny Desk.

Burna Boy performs during a Tiny Desk concert on Sept. 16, 2019. Mhari Shaw/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Mhari Shaw/NPR

Burna Boy

The Nigerian singer and songwriter is one of the biggest African artists in the world and a pioneer of Afro-fusion, an inescapable sound this year.

Kokoko! performs during a Tiny Desk concert, on Oct. 1, 2019. (Mhari Shaw/NPR) Mhari Shaw/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Mhari Shaw/NPR

KOKOKO!

KOKOKO! are sonic warriors. They seized control of the Tiny Desk, shouting their arrival through a megaphone, while electronic sirens begin to blare.

Rio Mira plays a Tiny Desk Concert (Shuran Huang/NPR). Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

Rio Mira

Rio Mira's music celebrates life along the river that separates Ecuador and Colombia: soft breezes, loving friends, the embrace of Africa and lots of festejando!

Back To Top