'Simple Gifts' in a crisis: Yo-Yo Ma and Joyce DiDonato collaborate for the first time
The Grammy Award winning mezzo soprano and cellist perform 'Simple Gifts' in an online duet, and discuss how musicians can respond to crises including the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement
Produced and directed by Juliet Riddell and filmed and edited by Petros Gioumpasis
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All of a sudden, there was this sense that live music was just - the light was turned out. And I was watching all of us scramble to say, OK, what do we do now? How do we communicate? How do we serve? How do we express ourselves?
We could be each doing something that is very little, that's absolutely possible. And that's what it takes to actually change things. Every little act, I think, counts.
All righty - 'Simple Gifts.' I'm going to take that 433. Stand by for my favourite part. I love this.
'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free, 'tis the gift to come down where we ought to be, and when we find ourselves in the place just right, 'twill be in the valley of love and delight. When true simplicity is gained, to bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed. To turn, turn will be our delight, 'til by turning, turning, we come round right.
And when we find ourselves in the place just right, 'twill be in the valley of love and delight. When true simplicity is gained, to bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed. To turn, turn will be our delight, 'til by turning, turning, we come round right.
So you and I have never performed together, but you were the one artist and the one citizen I wanted to explore where we are now, where we might go, where we've been. But we're having to improvise now in so many different ways, particularly now what's erupting in the United States in the midst of the pandemic, in the midst of different crises and challenges.
In times of trouble you can't count on much. You can't count good food being there. You can't count on medical help if you're in need. But you can count on values. I think this is something that I've been thinking a lot about - the values of, why is it that if you and I talk, we will find a way to get along? Because there is a basic connection that human beings need with one another.
And one of the things that we look for in connection is trust. Now, there's a massive breakdown in trust when you have people arguing past one another and not listening.
In terms of what's happening now with the murder of George Floyd and all of the division that is coming to the surface that has been in our country for a long, long, long time, it's still clear to me that this is not the moment for me to speak out as if I have the answers, but to listen and to understand more deeply my role in all of this so that I can also figure out what are those small steps to take or big steps individually.
My dream is that people will continue to turn to the arts for comfort, for solace, for that reminder that we're a part of a bigger picture. We're connected to a past. We have a future. And to see the example that music gives you in the sense of coming together as a community. People of all different backgrounds coming together as a community to experience something bigger than ourselves.
It is an indicator of how to throw down walls, of how to bridge divides. I think when we come back we're going to have to make music with even greater purpose and vision and leadership and determination. And it's not going to be business as usual. We're going to have to really lead in a huge way, as the arts have always led through moments of renaissance.
I would say that if you are in despair, there's hope - legitimate hope. If you feel disempowered, you can act and be part of the solution through small actions - that they count, because they add up.
If you feel disconnected, there are ways, and there are people that want to connect. And ultimately, those three things - having connection and having agency and having hope - is crucial for us to be able to first imagine and then to build the society we want to live in.