“It’s only through connection and understanding that we can create strong, inclusive, and resilient communities and build a better future. … I have watched with the nation as Flint has done just that,” said cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who hosted “Flint Voices: Culture, Community, and Resilience” on Feb. 28. Ma’s cultural visit to Flint builds on his journey to perform Bach’s Six Suites for Solo Cello in different locations as a catalyst for social change. The University Musical Society presented the event.
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Yo-Yo Ma’s day of action in Flint, Michigan, began with a strategic working session held at Flint Fresh Food Hub, a local nonprofit food distribution center. Some 50 Flint-based community leaders attended the session to learn how cultural collaboration can affect social change.
Yo-Yo Ma took part in the working session, discussing with local leaders ways that culture might raise all voices in Flint and build a more inclusive, healthy, and vibrant city.
A child at Berston Field House in Flint waits for the start of the community cultural showcase and to hear Yo-Yo Ma perform. The showcase featured a wide spectrum of performances and presentations by local artists.
After performing the very first Bach piece he learned as a child, Yo-Yo Ma asked Baba Collins from the Kuungana African Drum and Dance Company in Flint to join him for a second piece.
Throughout the day, Yo-Yo Ma was accompanied by one of Flint’s hometown heroes: songwriter and recording artist Tunde Olaniran, ’04, MPA’05, who is a beloved fixture in the local music scene.
Yo-Yo Ma snaps a photo as the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint Steel Band performs at the community cultural showcase.
Yo-Yo Ma poses with the president of the University Musical Society, Matthew VanBesien (far left), U-M President Mark Schlissel, UM-Flint Interim Provost Sue Alcock, and U-M Provost Martin Philbert.
Yo-Yo Ma also delivered a lecture titled “Culture, Understanding, and Survival” at Hill Auditorium the night before the Flint event. He opened and closed his talk by performing the theme from Bach’s "Goldberg Variations."
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