Yo-Yo Ma: On Bringing the World Together – Through Listening

Yo-Yo Ma
I’m Alan Alda, and this is Clear and Vivid, conversations about connecting and communicating.
I think the most important thing that one can do as a performer is to be absolutely present. So here’s my personal scenario. The hall is my living room. Everybody in the hall is here because I invited them to a party. We’re going to have a great time.
Bach suite
That’s Yo-Yo Ma, playing the prelude to the Bach Cello Suite No.1… it’s the first few seconds of over two hours of sublime music in all six cello suites. Not long ago, I heard my friend Yo-Yo, play all six suites in a concert at Tanglewood in the Berkshires. It was an amazing and moving performance – And it was even more amazing when you think that this was just one of 36 performances of the cello suites he’ll be doing in 36 different locations around the world. It’s an effort Yo-Yo calls the Bach Project in which the beauty of the music is only the beginning. Each concert is tied to what Yo-Yo calls a Day of Action, a series of conversations and collaborations, unique to each location, that grapple with the concerns of the people who live there.
A couple days after the Tanglewood concert I sat down with Yo-Yo in a recording studio – where he was getting ready to join a mandolin player, a fiddle player and a bassist to record an album of bluegrass music.
Alan: 00:02 Yeah. Yo-Yo, I’m so excited to be talking to you today. I’ll tell you why. When I saw your concert at Tanglewood a couple of days ago and it was such a fantastic evening and it was a milestone in my life. I got to tell you about that.
Yo-Yo: 00:21 A milestone in your life?
Alan: 00:22 Yeah.
Yo-Yo: 00:23 Funny.
Alan: 00:24 I’m sure doing the concert with me in the audience was a milestone in your life.
Yo-Yo: 00:28 Absolutely. Every time I see you is in milestone in my life.
Alan: 00:32 Here’s the thing I’ve always admired people who could be moved emotionally by music. I’ve never been. I love music but I’ve never experienced that much. When Arlene plays Mazurka by Chopin, a particular one that makes me sad, that’s the closest I come.
But there was a moment in the first few bars of the Bach two nights ago when I was so captured by the music you were playing and the image occurred to me that Bach wrote these notes on a piece of paper, they went into your brain, and came out your fingers and tears started running down my face.
The combination of the music and that thought that you had connected me to Bach’s hand through your own brilliance, through your own genius, was an amazing experience for me. Do you have a sense of what you’re communicating when you do that?
Yo-Yo: 01:41 Well, Alan, I think you’re asking the type of question I’ve been asking myself all my life.
Alan: 01:41 What? [crosstalk 00:01:51].
Yo-Yo: 01:51 What is music for?
Alan: 01:52 Oh, yeah. [crosstalk 00:01:53].
Yo-Yo: 01:54 What does it do to people?
Alan: 01:55 Do you change your mind about what you think it is as time goes on?
Yo-Yo: 01:57 All the time. , I’m still trying to figure it out and I think by asking the question and not necessarily having the answer you get little snippets of answers along the way. One of the more recent ways I think about music is that it’s some form of living material.
Alan: 02:28 What does that mean? That’s interesting.
Yo-Yo: 02:30 I think that if you have an important story to tell and you have it in your mind, you want to write it down, you want to tell somebody, it’s so important to you that you make sure that the story is true, that it’s concise, you can represent that story. You write it down.
Someone else looks at that story and says, “My goodness, this is incredible. I have to tell somebody else about that.” You then collar somebody an unwilling victim of your story and you say, “Hey, I got this incredible story. You got to listen to this.” The person says, “No, I don’t have time.” “No, no, but sit down. Look, if you don’t have time now I’ll make time and I’m going to make … Really, I have to tell this to you.”.
The person listens and realizes, “Oh my word, this is unbelievable. This is so important. I can’t wait to …”
Alan: 03:43 [crosstalk 00:03:43] Bach told you this story and you’re telling me?
Yo-Yo: 03:46 No. Bach figured out a story and he wanted to put it down because he knew that was important. Then he puts it down but he died.
Alan: 04:00 Right.
Yo-Yo: 04:03 300 years later someone like me comes along and says, “That seems like something really important. I wonder what that story is” but all I have are the coded materials. To figure out the code in order to get to that moment.
Alan: 04:21 You bring to mind something that I’ve wondered about since I was a young man. When I was young, there were people who had developed these ideas much earlier and they used to talk about the idea … Let me start that all over again.
When I was young I talked to people who were older than me, who had the idea that there were creative artists and interpretive artists and I thought, “You can’t be a performing artist without being creative.” You don’t make up the notes. You don’t make up the words of a play, but you can’t … If you’re just delivering the notes or delivering the words, you might as well hand out a copy of the play to the audience and go home.
Yo-Yo: 05:12 Right.
Alan: 05:12 Let them figure out the performance.
Yo-Yo: 05:14 That’s where the living material comes in.
Alan: 05:15 Ah, that’s what I was wondering.
Yo-Yo: 05:17 Right. I think unless you also know the code and part of recreation is that you rise to the level of the creator because the creator of the material … Actually that material is a translation of something else. You have to get beyond the technique of either performing something or writing something in order to get to the essence.
Alan: 05:54 This sounds like you’re saying the creative process that Bach goes through or any composer is translating something else for us.
Yo-Yo: 06:08 Yes.
Alan: 06:08 What’s the something else? Something happening in the brain, in the heart?
Yo-Yo: 06:12 Well, that’s the mystery, isn’t it? You can make estimates, hypotheses, assertions about what that is and you can test it out with the material that was written.
For example, we know that Bach was orphaned at a fairly young age at a time when adults died fairly young. It’s not that unusual. He was raised by older siblings. We know that he went on a trip, he came back home, found out that his wife had died. You know, [crosstalk 00:06:56].
Yeah, that’s right, which you know a lot about. I think without getting into psycho biographies, we know that whatever people do or create or make obviously is influenced by their experience.
Alan: 07:21 He’s taking something that … Somehow consciously or unconsciously he’s taking his life experience, the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows, and he’s putting that into something that you can then draw on.
Yo-Yo: 07:36 Absolutely.
Alan: 07:37 Tell the story your way.
Yo-Yo: 07:39 Well, yes. I have to try and estimate what are touchpoints in Bach’s character.
Alan: 07:50 So you tell as much of the story in his version of the story as you can.
Yo-Yo: 07:55 Yes but you also have to estimate were he alive today …
Alan: 08:03 Would he say, “Get off the stage”?
Yo-Yo: 08:04 Or would he say, “Schmuck, go home. Leave my music alone.”.
Alan: 08:09 “What’s a matter with you?”.
Yo-Yo: 08:10 Yeah, exactly. If I’m playing all six suites he says, “That’s ridiculous. I never intended it that way.” Having worked with a lot of living composers, I also make an estimate on what creative spirits do. There are those that want their work exactly replicated. There are those that don’t care as long as their work is being done. There are those that actually develop with their work, the ones that are constantly fiddling with their works that they’ve never finished.
Alan: 08:53 Based on ideas that you come up with as you play?
Yo-Yo: 08:56 No, no, no. From their life experiences or whatever or according to whatever their experience with me and they might change something. Composers come in all shapes, forms and sizes. There’s no one size fits all, as you know, very well with creative personalities. The question is what’s your best estimate of what that person is?
Alan: 09:26 You know, what interests me every time I see you play, it really interests me, and you have this incredible ability to concentrate during the performance instantaneously. Yet when I see you walk out on stage two nights ago you were smiling, waving to the audience, and noticing people. When you come out in the presence of an orchestra, you’re shaking hands and joking and waving and you sit down and, boom, you are in another world. That sounds to me very improvisational. To me, the improvisational stance that you take what comes at you.
Yo-Yo: 10:08 Totally.
Alan: 10:09 Then use it. Let it become something else. A transformation.
Yo-Yo: 10:15 I think the most important thing that one can do as a performer is to be absolutely present. To be in the moment, which means therefore you take anything [crosstalk 00:10:29].
Alan: 10:29 I heard you say once that the most important thing is to be present and the next thing is that the audience take action. Do I have that right or am I telling you something you never heard before?
Yo-Yo: 10:45 I don’t know. I think I usually try and say to myself … This is my scenario. I walk on stage. A lot of people are afraid walking on stage. You see an audience and it’s, “Oh my gosh. How am I going to deal with my nerves?”.
Here’s my personal scenario. The hall is my living room. Everybody in the hall is here because I invited them to a party. I’m going to have a great time.
Alan: 11:19 That’s exactly the way I feel.
Yo-Yo: 11:21 Really?
Alan: 11:22 Yeah. As a young man, I used to be nervous when I would hear the throng outside on the other side of the curtain. Now I get much more alert and I think … When I start to smile and I think, “I’m going to be with them in a second, I’m going to be serving them a meal.”.
Yo-Yo: 11:43 Yeah, that’s amazing.
Alan: 11:46 We both have that same [crosstalk 00:11:47].
Yo-Yo: 11:47 Yeah, because, you know, I don’t know if you ever watched Julia Child [crosstalk 00:11:53]. Exactly. Exactly. “Well, you just pick it up”.
Alan: 11:57 [crosstalk 00:11:57] put it back in because who is going to know?
Yo-Yo: 12:01 That’s right. Because when we perform, you always have to ask, “Who are you doing it for?”.
Alan: 12:10 Who are you doing it for?
Yo-Yo: 12:12 I’m doing it for the people that I invited to the party and they are the most important people in the room.
Alan: 12:20 See, to me, a performer that has that in mind has my attention and my utter respect because when I see a performer who’s doing it for himself or herself alone and there’s ecstasy involved in it and it’s wonderful to experience it but if you’re only doing it for that and not to share it with the people who are in front of it seems a little selfish.
Yo-Yo: 12:50 It’s a little voyeurism.
Alan: 12:52 Yeah. Right. [crosstalk 00:12:53] .
Yo-Yo: 12:52 You’re looking through a window. Yes, exactly. That’s right. There are other words with that but I won’t go into it.
Alan: 13:04 What do you say when you play a wrong note?
Yo-Yo: 13:07 That’s when the chicken drops on the floor and you say you pick it up because it doesn’t matter that a glass broke. It doesn’t matter that the sauce isn’t right. It doesn’t matter that you ran out of an ingredient because the purpose is the party.
Alan: 13:24 Yeah.
Yo-Yo: 13:28 This is why I think asking the question, “Who you’re doing it for” because if in your head you’re doing it to please your teacher or to impress your colleagues, right? Who know intimately what sauce you’re making and and “Oh, it’s missing pepper”, right?
It just doesn’t it … You’re going to be thinking about, “Shoot, I don’t have enough pepper” and it’s got to be the sauce is not the center of the event. The center is the audience. This is where the living material comes in where you want to make sure that the living material isn’t delivered as a package and your work is done. You have to make sure that the package, if it’s a transplant of a heart, actually gets to the patient and the patient lives.
Alan: 14:30 That is good.
Yo-Yo: 14:31 Otherwise, “Hey, I gave you the heart.” You know?
Alan: 14:35 What do you want from me?
Yo-Yo: 14:36 What else do you want from me?
So that’s Yo-Yo thinking about what a good performance can do for an individual listener. But he’s also committed to an even bigger idea: using the ability of music to bring people together. He’s done this in a project called Silkroad, musical collaborations with artists from different cultures. And it’s a major goal of his Bach Project. Bringing people together through music – right after this break.
This is C+V. Now back to my conversation with Yo-Yo Ma and the origins of his passion for connecting with people… and for connecting people to one another.
Alan: 14:41 See, that of concern for the person you’re communicating with … Sorry. That concern for the person you’re communicating with is central to you, as far as as well as I know you, I think I can say this, the caring about the other person as a person and not as an audience to be used for your own play [crosstalk 00:15:12] … I get the impression that’s why when you went to Harvard you studied anthropology because you were interested in people. A lot of things you could have studied. You’re smart.
Yo-Yo: 15:26 Something my mother thought so.
Alan: 15:29 What made you want to study anthropology? Maybe I have it wrong.
Yo-Yo: 15:32 No, you have it absolutely right. I think that I was drawn to a field that tried to look at any culture without judgment. In other words, what’s great about studying early cultures or literally any, you know, modern contemporary culture is the slight differences in the value systems. What do you put as first priority? Freedom, my way of life, food, order.
Alan: 16:24 Yeah. There’s so many versions.
Yo-Yo: 16:26 Safety. What is your most important priority? The way that people … That’s sort of like the DNA of a group of people if you’re going to talk about the soul of a nation or the essence of an individual, what are your most important? Is it loyalty? Is it freedom? Is it patriotism? Is it harmony?
Alan: 16:54 This is interesting to me because you’re talking about that … Sorry. This is interesting because you’re talking about the differences in cultures and yet your life is spent playing music that goes across cultures and with the Silk Road Project you brought cultures together.
My impression was with the unspoken intention that everybody is susceptible to all kinds of music. That there’s something about music that transcends the language and culture. Does it or doesn’t it? Do you have to get introduced to it?
Yo-Yo: 17:39 Well, I think I’d like to look for common denominators as well as, as you pointed out, the specific attributes of a nation, a person, a character, and the common denominator for everything that we call culture, everything that we’ve invented from … Well, we didn’t invent fire but we sort of tamed it and used it. The wheel, agriculture, math, Bach, Alan Alda. It’s …
Alan: 18:22 Wait, wait, wait. I’m in the same sentence with math and Bach?
Yo-Yo: 18:25 No. Just with fire and wheel.
Alan: 18:26 Oh.
Yo-Yo: 18:31 Don’t think you are so special.
Alan: 18:35 [crosstalk 00:00:18:34].
Yo-Yo: 18:36 No, I think basically we invented all of these things around us to help us to survive and to thrive. My sense of what unites us is the fact that as a human species all the things that we care about help us in the period between life and death because that’s … We all know that’s going to happen.
Alan: 19:17 [inaudible 00:19:18]. This sounds like you’re edging back to the original idea we were talking about what is music for? Does music somehow help us get from life to death in a better way?
Yo-Yo: 19:28 Yeah. All the things … What music actually brings people together. People, when you hear music, people are … You know, you share music. It’s a communal activity …
Alan: 19:41 You know, I talked to a scientist on this program who when she went to Africa was surprised to see that all the workers in her project started the day singing together. Started every day that way. It brought them together and they were working on I think ebola and it was a very serious and intense time for them but it lightened their spirits and it brought them together as a community. That sounds like what you’re saying.
Yo-Yo: 20:12 Absolutely. Because I think the origins of … In the earliest societies, you know, how do you communicate, how do you share what is safe, what is dangerous, whatever you do in form of music, dance, and within that you have the healers, you combine the sacred and the secular, you have the entertainment, you have all of that is … Then it gets separated.
All of that was much more into sort of one type of activity that helps the community get through life and changes and crises but then later on we have more and more specialties. That doesn’t mean that these specialties don’t belong back.
You know the best way … When you serve, you’re being served. In a sense, all of science, I think, tries to find possible temporary answers to problems and questions that can be replicated under precise conditions that can help solve problems.
Alan: 20:12 Right.
Yo-Yo: 21:42 Right? I mean, I think essentially music does the same thing. I think art does the same thing. Sociology does the same thing. Governments do the same thing. Economies should do the same.
You can also leave that frame of thinking and say, “This is the most important thing and it’s more important than anything else.” That changes the construct. You start to say, “Well, it’s art for its own sake. It’s capitalism for its own sake. It’s ideology for its own sake.”.
Then then you start to break apart the equilibrium. One of the things that I feel that’s very important is that at this point we have a lot of fractures in different people saying all kinds of …
Alan: 22:45 Well, we can’t even agree on what the facts are.
Yo-Yo: 22:49 Right. We need to kind of retool and rethink sort of what are our priorities as humans, as a country, as a planet, as a species. Because actually some people are saying, “There’s danger out there.”.
Alan: 23:10 Yeah.
Yo-Yo: 23:12 How do we cope with communal danger?


Alan: 23:18 Your project that you’re doing … Have you finished the 36 concerts?
Yo-Yo: 23:23 I’m exactly halfway through.
Alan: 23:25 The idea is to do 36 concerts. Am I right that you play all six Bach suites at each of these concerts?
Yo-Yo: 23:34 Yes.
Alan: 23:35 What a marathon that is.
Yo-Yo: 23:40 I think of this as an experiment as … You know the story of stone soup?
Alan: 23:47 No.
Yo-Yo: 23:49 Basically a village. There’s no food in the village. Someone comes in and says, “Look, I have a pot. Can someone make a fire?” Someone makes a fire. “Does anybody have water?” Then slowly the villages each bring in something. You know, a root, vegetables, something and they put it all in the pot and then everybody has something to eat.
I think my part in trying to start communal conversations in 36 places on six continents is to actually figure out what in each community, whether it’s at the border between countries or States or in areas that are going through a hardship, sort of what is the communal conversation? What do people want to talk about? Do research to say, “Who’s doing good stuff that we need to actually pay attention to?”.
Alan: 24:56 Let’s say one … Let’s just take one example so I can …
Let’s just take one example so I can follow what you’re saying. You did a concert at the border between the United States and Mexico, right?
Yo-Yo: 25:14 Right.
Alan: 25:15 Where was that?
Yo-Yo: 25:17 This was in Laredo. We played the Bach. I played the Bach suites in San Antonio, which is a little bit further away but then the next day I went to the Laredo, which is both in Texas and Mexico. [Foreign language 00:25:33].
There’s new Laredo, there’s old Laredo, and then there’s the river separating and there’s a bridge between the two. I went to both Laredos and what I discovered there was that everybody has families, friends. On both sides, people cross the bridge to go to school, to go to work, and the border patrol very helpful.
In addition to which it’s the second largest port of entry in the United States. I didn’t know that.
Alan: 26:19 No, I didn’t.
Yo-Yo: 26:20 After Los Angeles. What was happening was that … What I learned was people love their communities. I mean, cross the border, generational, friendships, relationships and that was so palpable.
Alan: 26:48 So you did the concert in San Antonio and then you went to Laredo. Did you play in Laredo?
Yo-Yo: 26:55 I played, I talked to people. We had a big gathering of people that on both sides. The mayors talk frequently and try and do things together. There’s just so much connection between the two and they’re like lifelines for each other.
I’m sure this happens with you wherever you go. What I read about and what you experience when you are on the ground is something is often very different. Right? It’s just I needed to go see.
Alan: 27:42 What will be the end product? Will it be the discussions that you’ve helped generate in these places? Will you write about it or [crosstalk 00:27:53] in terms of the press? What’s the outcome?
Yo-Yo: 27:57 Well, I think since we’re at midway we’re examining what we’ve learned so far.
Alan: 28:03 Are you photographing it?
Yo-Yo: 28:06 Some people … I think there are photographers that are involved. There’s in fact a wonderful photographer that we’ve traveled with some places, including in Chile at the Paranel Observatory high up in the mountains.
Alan: 28:25 Did you play in the observatory?
Yo-Yo: 28:30 Yeah. Yeah. It’s amazing because Chile actually has 40% of the world’s observatories.
Alan: 28:36 I almost died one night in one of them.
Yo-Yo: 28:38 Is that right?
Alan: 28:39 Yeah.
Yo-Yo: 28:40 Because you went … [crosstalk 00:28:45] Fell on your head?
Alan: 28:45 An obstruction in my gut.
Yo-Yo: 28:47 Oh my word.
Alan: 28:52 I had to have an operation in the middle of the night. It was a very wonderful experience. It was 15 years ago and I’ve already had the experience of nearly dying and so now it doesn’t bother me.
Yo-Yo: 29:05 Isn’t that interesting?
Alan: 29:06 Yeah. I really recommend it.
Yo-Yo: 29:08 Yeah.
Alan: 29:08 Waking up alive is really nice.
Yo-Yo: 29:11 It beats the alternative.
Alan: 29:12 You realize, first of all, how precious life is and you also realize, “That wasn’t so bad.” I got a bonus here but if I didn’t, that’s all it is. You go to sleep.
Yo-Yo: 29:30 You know, it’s funny. When I was 25 I had back surgery for scoliosis and it was a pretty long operation.
Alan: 29:43 How old were you?
Yo-Yo: 29:44 25. It was same thing. You kind of prepare yourself for it to say, “Well, you know, I’ve lived life for quarter of a century, I’ve done this, and if I wake up, survive, and can’t do what I do, life is still full. We can do lots of things but I’m prepared for whatever the outcome is”.
Alan: 30:08 See, I love that.
Yo-Yo: 30:09 And it’s freeing. It’s very freeing.
Alan: 30:11 That must come out and your playing, it must come out in your generating ideas for the 36 concerts, for the Silk Road. You take what comes at you in life and you do something with it.
Yo-Yo: 30:25 I truly believe that. I think that, you know, we’re on earth for such a short time and by being able to front load a possible end allows for the retrospective thinking to say … You know, there’s that popular saying about what would be your regrets?
Alan: 30:56 Yes.
Yo-Yo: 30:57 At the end of life, would you wish you spent more time at the office? Do you wish you played more concerts? Do you wish you did more plays? What do you miss?
Usually it’s you would miss the time that you might’ve spent with people you love, your family, your friends, and people that … You know, it’s a different … David Brooks has this thing about, you know, whether it’s do you work for your CV or for the eulogy? You know? What kind of biography are you … Who are you doing it for?
Alan: 31:35 Well, I get the impression that you do it as part of your overall rule, that the most important thing is to be present. I see you do that. Whether you’re playing or talking, having a conversation, joking, kidding. You can transition from a serious thought to humor because you’re present and you’re aware of the changing currents in the tide.
Yo-Yo: 31:58 I think what I care most about is I hate to see human suffering. You look around in a room, you don’t think about what people … Necessarily, one doesn’t usually think about what someone else is going through in the room. But if you think about it, you realize that tragedy is all around us.
I find out 15 years ago by talking to you you almost died. You were that close and, all of us, it’s like we’re just steps away from a lot of suffering.
Alan: 32:48 Yeah.
Yo-Yo: 32:50 If you’re in a room, we think, “Oh, these are people.” Yeah. But the people have unbelievable stories. If you find out the stories of anybody in any room, you have the experience of a lifetime.
Alan: 33:06 Well, I’m getting the signal that our time is up and [crosstalk 00:33:11].
Yo-Yo: 33:11 Am I going to die now?
Alan: 33:13 No, no. Our time isn’t up in that sense.
Yo-Yo: 33:15 Oh, okay. It’s a different kind of time. I don’t know what time scale you’re on.
Alan: 33:18 You never know what time scale you’re on actually.
Yo-Yo: 33:21 Exactly.
Alan: 33:22 That’s why it’s good to enjoy what you got while you got it. We always end our show with seven quick questions and invite seven quick answers and they’re generally about relating and communicating. Are you game for it?
Yo-Yo: 33:36 I’m game for anything you propose.
Alan: 33:41 What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever tried to explain to anyone?
Yo-Yo: 33:48 The experience of deep suffering.
Alan: 33:59 You tried to explain that to somebody and it was hard to do it?
Yo-Yo: 34:02 Yeah, because unless you … I think that one of the hardest things to transfer to another person is actually experience. Really hard to do.
Alan: 34:19 You make me want to explore that but this is the end of the show so I’ve got to go on. How do you handle a nosy person?
Yo-Yo: 34:29 With grace and fortitude.
Alan: 34:37 How do you tell someone they have their facts wrong? Or do you?
Yo-Yo: 34:42 Well, you see, “Let’s look at it another way.”
Alan: 34:45 Yeah. Right. Yeah. Right. Good luck with that [crosstalk 00:34:49].
Yo-Yo: 34:48 Yeah. Exactly.
Alan: 34:53 What’s the strangest question anyone’s ever asked you?
Yo-Yo: 35:02 Do you remember me?
Alan: 35:03 [inaudible 00:35:07]. The million people who have crossed your path. “You don’t remember me?” I had a woman who said, “We were on television together on a game show. You helped me win $25,000.” We were there for two minutes. Right? Then she said, “Well, I guess I understand why you don’t remember me. I took the $25,000 and I had my face fixed.”.
Yo-Yo: 35:24 I love it.
Alan: 35:24 She had a different face.
Yo-Yo: 35:25 I love it. “Oh, now I recognize you.”.
Alan: 35:30 [inaudible 00:35:30] that face? How do you stop a compulsive talker?
Yo-Yo: 35:36 By going to the bathroom.
Alan: 35:41 You know, that turns out to be a popular technique.
Yo-Yo: 35:43 Really?
Alan: 35:43 Yeah. Hopefully not in front.
Yo-Yo: 35:46 What do you do if you’re at dinner with someone that you don’t know and you want to start up a real conversation? How do you start up a conversation that gets to something somewhere?
Alan: 35:56 How much do you sleep?
Yo-Yo: 35:58 Oh, no kidding. What an interesting question.
Alan: 36:02 I don’t know. There are many ways to start a conversation but don’t start with the obvious.
Yo-Yo: 36:07 Yeah, that’s good. Now what … This is the last question. What gives you confidence?
Knowing that it could always be worse.
Alan: 36:27 That’s great. Yo-Yo, this has been so much fun. The time flew by and I look forward to our next talk. It’s really fun.
Yo-Yo: 36:36 It’s precious time to be able to spend with you.
Alan: 36:39 Just great.
Yo-Yo: 36:40 Always.
Alan: 36:41 You said it. Thanks you much.
Yo-Yo: 36:43 Thank you, sir.
As Yo-Yo said, he’s already half-way through the 36 concerts in the Bach Project, with his next stops in Beirut, Seoul, Sydney, Melbourne and Christchurch, New Zealand. You can find out much more about the Bach Project, Silkroad and Yo-Yo’s many albums by visiting yo-yoma.com.

Trailer for Greene:
Next in our series of conversations I talk with Brian Greene, another virtuoso who’s not only expert at what he does, but just as skilled at connecting. Brian’s technical skill as a theoretical physicist specializing in string theory is matched by his extraordinary skill at connecting with an audience.
When I see a young kid and I’m talking to him about black holes or the Big Bang and I see their eyes light up in a way that tells me that they’re so fired up about this cool idea. When they say to me, “I didn’t even know that was science.” At that point, you say, Wow, this is something that… it’s just tragic for kids and adults to not at least be given the opportunity to wander around some of the most wondrous ideas that the species has ever developed.
Brian Greene, physicist and stellar communicator, next time on C+V.