In an act of unity and compassion, superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed compositions by Bach on both sides of the Juarez-Lincoln international bridge, in Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico on Saturday. Laredo was the latest stop on Ma’s world tour for The Bach Project, which kicked off last year and will bring him to 36 locations all over the globe by the end of 2019.
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“In culture, we build bridges, not walls.”-Yo-Yo Ma. I admire his talent. I admire his purpose. And most of all, I admire the fact that he chose to come to my hometown, the U.S.-Mexico border, for his Bach Project.👏🏻🎻 #yoyoma #cultureconnectsus #bachproject #laredo #nuevolaredo
With The Bach Project, Ma has endeavored to connect people through the power of music and community. The tour consists of solo performances of Bach’s six suites for cello at concert venues, complemented by “Days of Action” that are free and open to the public, packed with cultural events and festivities.
— Frankie (@HRH_Frankie) April 14, 2019
At his public performance in Laredo, set against the backdrop of the U.S.-Mexico border fence, Ma specifically addressed Trump’s recent lie that the United States is “full.” “A country is not a hotel. And it’s not full. In culture, as you all know — as you did, and do, and will do — in culture, we build bridges, not walls.” The Parisian-born, Chinese-American mentioned his personal experiences that inspired The Bach Project. “I’ve lived my life at the borders. Between cultures. Between disciplines. Between musics. Between generations. And I believe that you have a unique culture that actually is empathetic to both sides, and to even many more sides. People from other places need to listen to you.”
The mayor of Laredo, Pete Saenz, explained to NPR that while the two cities lie on opposite sides of the border, they rely upon one another in ways that have been eclipsed by divisive narratives. “[Although] people may perceive us as being so different, we’re not. Here the border is extremely unique in that it’s one organism. I’ve always said we’re interdependent, interconnected. We survived because the border side survives, especially here on the border area.” The news organization cited the significant amount of trade that transpires between the two cities: over a third of U.S.-Mexico trade passes through the city of Laredo each year. It’s also a port of entry where thousands of migrants arrive to seek asylum in the United States.
The Bach Project visited San Juan, Puerto Rico last month with the intention of exploring the “revitalizing power of culture.” Ma’s tour will end in Christchurch, New Zealand, on November 12th of this year. You can follow the project and its impact at the hashtag #cultureconnectsus