Dear Yo-Yo Ma:

{ Monday, January 14, 2008 }

I can't imagine what fan letters could mean to you. After all the Grammys and acclaim, what can a fan letter mean?

It's not even your music I want to thank you most for. It's your example of how to work as an artist and keep your spirit balanced.

I want to thank you first for how much work you've done and how many different kinds of work you've pushed yourself to do. A lot of advice is given to young writers to go out and live before we try to write anything. It's not bad advice, but listening to you I think maybe it's not the best advice. I think that to build a body of work that means anything, you have to start working as soon as you think to do so and build relationships as part of your work. (And then keep working.) Thank you for doing that.

You've brought so much music out of other people. It seems important to you to build bonds between many artists, whether renowned, forgotten, students, or five-year-olds on Sesame Street who don't know yet they're artists. You do it even at the expense of your own stature on the stage. The music can be more fully explored this way, but there is something even more created, something between humans: any art is an approximation of it. You've done more than keep more music alive. You've made more music potent, and spread the power in many artists' hands.

This is a great gift to those who watch you. We aren't all prodigies. But we have our chances to share credit, to invite others into the spotlight, to teach without glory, to point to the thing we create instead of our own names. Thank you for showing how to do it.

I hope that you don't have many days when trivia stands in your way, and that when it does, you are able to take something from the trivia as well.

Ann Elizabeth

Yo-Yo Ma Links

The Yo-Yo Ma site and The Silk Road Project site
Fred Rogers' Dartmouth address where he tells a Yo-Yo Ma story
An amazing interview series - look for the videos that say "Yo-Yo Ma CLASSICS"
Paganini Caprice 24

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