Yo-Yo Ma Plays Bach In Shadow Of Texas Border Crossing The world-renowned cellist brought his Bach Project to the sister cities of Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, on Saturday.
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Cellist Yo-Yo Ma Plays Bach In Shadow Of Border Crossing

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Cellist Yo-Yo Ma Plays Bach In Shadow Of Border Crossing

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma Plays Bach In Shadow Of Border Crossing

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/713092703/713097771" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Near a southern border crossing today in Laredo, Texas, where the wait to cross into Mexico can take hours, something different could be heard above the crowds. Renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed, saying he wanted music to set the tone there, not politics. Texas Public Radio's Norma Martinez reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

YO-YO MA: (Playing cello).

NORMA MARTINEZ, BYLINE: On a sunny, hazy, humid morning, cellist Yo-Yo Ma played the opening notes of J.S. Bach's "Suite No. 1 For Unaccompanied Cello" just feet from the river that separates Laredo, Texas, from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. It's part of Ma's Bach project, taking Bach's music to 36 locations around the world to explore connections between cultures. Moore was originally scheduled to perform on the Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge, but the wait times to cross the bridge are hours long because hundreds of border agents have been temporarily redirected away from the ports of entry. Ma chose to perform at Tres Laredos Park a stone's throw from the bridge that links the two nations.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MA: I've lived my life at the borders between cultures, between disciplines, between musics, between generations.

MARTINEZ: Ma addressed the crowd after his performance. He gestured to the bridge to his right.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MA: As you all know, as you did and do and will do, in culture, we build bridges - not walls.

(CHEERING)

MARTINEZ: Sixteen-year-old Mateo Bailey lives in San Antonio. He grew up in El Paso, plays the cello and is the son of Grammy award-winning cellist Zuill Bailey. He felt Ma's performance had special significance.

MATEO BAILEY: Because it's on the border, and I'm half Mexican as well as half American. And for him to connect both cultures like this is really special because I've grown up with the cello. And for him to connect cello with what's really happening in the world is - like, it's a cultural bridge that - which is built, and it's just amazing.

MARTINEZ: Pete Saenz, mayor of Laredo, said despite the river, despite the bridge spanning overhead, the border is one community.

PETE SAENZ: And although people may perceive us as being so different, we're not. Here at the border is extremely unique in that it's one organism. I've always said, you know, we're interdependent, interconnected.

MARTINEZ: And that's the type of interconnection Ma is highlighting with his two-year-long Bach Project.

MA: I love these two cities. I felt I was so welcomed into really their spaces. It's left an indelible mark in my memory.

MARTINEZ: For NPR News, I'm Norma Martinez in Laredo, Texas.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MA: (Playing cello).

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