Yo-Yo Ma Surprises Bystanders In Mumbai With A Mini-Concert Yo-Yo Ma, the world's most famous living cellist, performed formally and informally in Mumbai this week, part of a long-term project to play Bach's six suites for cello in 36 places around the world.

Yo-Yo Ma Surprises Bystanders In Mumbai With A Mini-Concert

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Last night was just your usual, busy Tuesday evening in one of the busiest, biggest cities in the world.

(SOUNDBITE OF YO-YO MA PERFORMANCE OF BACH'S "CELLO SUITE NO. 1")

KELLY: And it was there that a lucky handful of people hanging out in Mumbai, India, on Marine Drive promenade were treated to this.

(SOUNDBITE OF YO-YO MA PERFORMANCE OF BACH'S "CELLO SUITE NO. 1")

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma giving an impromptu performance. According to the Mumbai Mirror newspaper, a little before sundown, Ma quietly walked onto the promenade, sat on the wall that separates the sea from the city and began to play Bach's "Cello Suite No. 1."

(SOUNDBITE OF YO-YO MA PERFORMANCE OF BACH'S "CELLO SUITE NO. 1")

KELLY: For 20 minutes, the typical sounds of Marine Drive - choking traffic, cacophonous car horns - mingled with Bach. Onlookers had no idea who the performer was.

CORNISH: But that didn't matter. One bystander told The Mirror, I'm not quite sure what he played, but listening to him left me spellbound. And that feeling is probably just what Ma was trying for.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KELLY: That's Ma here at NPR last August. He stopped by to play for us and to talk about his Bach project, a 36-city worldwide tour where he is playing the complete suites. A musical journey, Ma told me, motivated by Bach's ability to speak to our common humanity at a time of division in the world.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

YO-YO MA: Music actually was invented, as all of culture was invented, by us to help all of us figure out who we are, what the culture of us is and to start a conversation.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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