Beyond Great Music
I enjoyed listening to Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Marricone, and was SUPER lucky to attend a dress rehearsal of Yo-Yo Ma with the USC orchestra playing several of the pieces from the album just a few days after I purchased the album. It was absolutely amazing watching him play!
Yo-Yo was initially unaware that there was an audience at the rehearsal, as we were all silently sitting in the already-darkened balconies. When he entered, he was talking with one of the student orchestra players, and ended up conversing with several members of the orchestra before he sat down - because of this, none of us felt it appropriate to applaud when he entered. As a result, when he finished playing the first piece, and we all clapped, he was stunned! It was actually quite comical...
His rapport with the student orchestra members that day was absolutely admirable -- If I hadn't known that it was Yo-Yo Ma, I would have thought that he was an alumnus returning to do a concert at his alma mater, not one of the most famous classical musicians of our times, he spoke with students throughout the rehearsal and praised them for their accomplishments. In fact, there were several pieces that were paired with short films produced by seniors in the cinema school. Yo-Yo had a monitor in front of his seat and was able to watch them as he played. At the end of each piece, he asked whether the student was present, and recognized them for their talent. He is a natural mentor, and it was inspiring to watch him!
Since then, I've purchased every one of his CDs (including the newest one, which I've just purchased on iTunes and am listening to as we speak!), and have seen him in concert with the Silk Road Ensemble - a project which, I think, shows Yo-Yo's commitment to making music an agent of cross-cultural dialogue.