This weekend, Yo-Yo Ma performed Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Suite No. 1 for Unaccompanied Cello” on both sides of the border. The performance was a part of a event – called Day of Action – celebrating the relationship between Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.
On the Texas side, he addressed the crowd in English, stating, “A country is not a hotel, and it’s not full… As you all know, as you did and do and will do, in culture, we build bridges, not walls.”
For Ma, the performance was part of his Bach Project, which he has taken to all parts of the world to show the connections between cultures.
On the Mexico side, Ma addressed the audience in Spanish and gave a version of the same speech. “I have lived my life between borders, between cultures, between disciplines, between generations.”
Silvia Foster-Frau, a Texas-based immigration reporter, said that while the musician had a translator, Ma decided to speak in Spanish, while everyone looked on and smiled.
Yo-Yo Ma is speaking Spanish the best he can in Nuevo Laredo and everyone is smiling. @YoYo_Ma
The translator they had on stage for him just stood there grinning. pic.twitter.com/NT84137o5Y
— Silvia Foster-Frau (@SilviaElenaFF) April 13, 2019