There are a thousand ways to have a career in music. A thousand ways of getting somewhere, a thousand ways of learning that with talent comes responsibility.
When I met the violoncellist Yo-Yo Ma, I was 25 years old and in my first year of doctoral work in the United States. I met him at a moment in my life when I concluded that running away from myself was the path I had to take. After the four frenetic years of Tolemia (1999), I needed time to study, and I decided to leave aside the bagpipe. And then he appeared, and without realizing it, helped me find the way to return to the instrument, with passion, taking on the responsibility of showing how culture is the only tool uniting us.
It has been a year since Yo-Yo Ma began a fascinating journey where he plays Bach’s six cello suites in 36 cities over six continents. With this tour, he intends to begin a conversation that goes beyond music to the way culture helps us connect and imagine a better future. This is why he decided to add a “day of action” to each of his concerts. On this day, he works with local organizations not only to learn about life in each of the places where he plays but also to amplify the work of these organizations and institutions working towards the idea—at once so simple and complex—of “a better future.”
Today, from Barcelona, where we will conduct this day of action with Yo-Yo Ma, I think about the bagpiper who came to study here 21 years ago and who today writes to you, and I recognize the luminary influence of the cellist in my life. And I also reflect on the good fortune of finding models who help us understand the role of art in society.