Renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma has made a name for himself not only in the world of music, but also in the world of education...

Renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma has made a name for himself not only in the world of music, but also in the world of education as a proponent of cultural-based learning. With his expanding tour itinerary for 2009, Ma will continue his work with a series of performances with the Silk Road Ensemble in the U.S.

The cellist completes his 2008 North American itinerary with an October 24 concert at the United Nations in New York, NY, but he returns to the States with a January 9 performance at Orchestra Hall in Chicago, IL. A January 17-30 tour of venues in India and the Middle East will take Ma out of the country again, but afterwards, his itinerary keeps him mostly in North America through early June.

The concerts featuring the Ensemble begin March 6 at the Performing Arts Center in Providence, RI, and continue through the month, ending with a March 19-20 set at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto, ON. After Ma’s solo performances in April and May, the Silk Road Ensemble will regroup for a June 5-6 run at Avery Fisher Hall in New York, NY. In all, the group has 12 currently scheduled performances for 2009.

Ma founded the Silk Road Project in 1998 to “study the ebb and flow of ideas among different cultures” along the ancient trade route known as the silk road and to “plant the seeds of new artistic and cultural growth,” according to his statement on the organization’s Web site. The Silk Road Ensemble, a collective of musicians and composers that performs specially commissioned works with Ma at select events around the world, grew out of that mission.

“We live in a world of increasing awareness and interdependence, and I believe that music can act as a magnet to draw people together,” Ma explained in his statement on the Silk Road site. “By listening to and learning from the voices of an authentic musical tradition, we become increasingly able to advocate for the worlds they represent. Further, as we interact with unfamiliar musical traditions we encounter voices that are not exclusive to one community. We discover transnational voices that belong to one world.”

Ma has been performing and recording music since his early childhood in the 1960s. He released his debut album, “Finzi: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra Op. 40,” in 1978 and has worked on more than 70 additional records since then, including the soundtrack to the 2005 film “Memoirs of a Geisha.” According to his official Web site, Ma performs on two instruments, a 1733 Montagnana cello from Venice and the 1712 Davidoff Stradivarius.

Yo-Yo Ma itinerary:
(Dates subject to change.)

October 14New York, NYCarnegie Hall
October 16 – 18Nashville, TNSchermerhorn Symphony Center
October 24New York, NYUnited Nations
January 9Chicago, ILOrchestra Hall
January 11Los Angeles, CARoyce Hall Auditorium
February 26Portland, MEMerrill Auditorium At City Hall
March 6Providence, RIProvidence Performing Arts Center *
March 8 – 9Boston, MASymphony Hall *
March 11North Bethesda, MDMusic Center at Strathmore *
March 13 – 14Ann Arbor, MIHill Auditorium *
March 16 – 17Minneapolis, MNOrchestra Hall *
March 19 – 20Toronto, ONRoy Thomson Hall *
March 30University Park, PAEisenhower Auditorium
March 31New York, NYCarnegie Hall
April 2Birmingham, ALAlys Stephens Center for the Performing Arts
May 2Greenvale, NYTilles Center for the Performing Arts
May 5Houston, TXJones Hall for the Performing Arts
May 12Vancouver, BCChan Centre for the Performing Arts
May 14Davis, CAMondavi Performing Arts Center
May 15Berkeley, CAZellerbach Auditorium
May 17San Diego, CABalboa Theatre
May 29Atlanta, GAWoodruff Arts Center
June 5 – 6New York, NYAvery Fisher Hall *

* with the Silk Road Ensemble