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A Look Into Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad

Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad
Yo-Yo Ma, a renowned cellist and current United Nations Messenger of Peace, is no stranger to creating new music. In 1998, the musician decided to combine his passions of music and philanthropy to form the nonprofit organization Silkroad. This Grammy-Award-winning ensemble encompasses artists from many countries. In doing so, Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad provides global opportunities for economically developing nations to create and learn about music.

Silkroad’s Roots

Named after the lands of the Silk Road, Ma’s organization unites musicians from across that region. Through music, the Silkroad Ensemble preserves cultural traditions by combining global talents and performing worldwide. It provides people from rural, indigenous and refugee communities with an intellectual and creative space. The diversity of the participating musicians is a beacon of hope, healing and inclusivity for many. It introduces audiences to the rich musical traditions of the represented countries. Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad also forms a bridge between socioeconomic classes and cultures.

In addition to providing a platform for musicians to perform, Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad also provides those from underdeveloped countries with educational resources. Silkroad creates educational partnerships for workshops and residencies. These partnerships extend to universities, public schools, refugee and indigenous communities and prisons.

Collaboration With Aga Khan

Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad collaborates with other philanthropic organizations. The Aga Khan Foundation is one key partner. This nonprofit international development agency aims to provide long-term solutions to poverty, hunger, illiteracy and health in South/Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The Aga Khan Foundation works in more than 30 countries across the world. It currently operates 1,000 programs. In collaboration with the Silkroad, the two organizations provide educational and cultural programs in these underdeveloped regions.

Role as UN Messenger of Peace

Beyond Silkroad, Yo-Yo Ma combats global poverty through his role as a United Nations Messenger of Peace. Most notably, he is always wearing his Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) lapel pin at every performance. The pin represents the United Nations’ goals for 2030. The musician aims to use the pin as a conversation piece, raising awareness for his passionate causes. These include but are not limited to a healthy planet, healthy population, no poverty, no hunger, gender equality and quality education.

The Melon Grant

Since the conception of Silkroad, Ma has stepped down from his role as the organization’s leader. However, the nonprofit continues to flourish. Recently, the group received a $3 million grant from The Andrew W. Melon Foundation. The grant is the most significant gift the group has received. The Silkroad will use this money to support the ensemble’s artists, expand two flagship education programs, create an internship program, promote diversity and more.

Yo-Yo Ma Advocating for Peace with Silkroad

As a musician and philanthropist, Yo-Yo Ma is notable. Through Silkroad and work with the United Nations, Yo-Yo Ma uses his platform to better the world. Most recently, he has done work with the Sea Change Project. This environmental organization works to protect the kelp forest in South African waters. Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad has provided a beacon of hope and collaborations between cultures, no matter what a country’s economic status is. Presently, he continues to work with organizations that benefit the world.

– Carly Johnson
Photo: Flickr