A child prodigy who was playing Bach at four and performing for President Kennedy by seven, Yo-Yo Ma – born October 7, 1955 in Paris France - is a master cellist who has taken classical music to a mainstream audience. Honing his skills at Harvard University, he was inspired by seeing Pablo Casals perform at the Marlboro Music Festival in 1972 and was soon performing with the cream of the world's orchestras; going on to become one of classical music's big stars when he won the prestigious Avery Fischer Award in 1978. His renditions of Brahms, Beethoven and Prokofiev brought great critical acclaim, but his crossover into Brazilian music, Argentinian tango and bluegrass attracted wider attention and won him 18 Grammy Awards. In later years he composed soundtracks for films such as Memoirs of a Geisha, Seven Years in Tibet and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. During a break from music, Ma was named a Peace Ambassador to the United States in 2006 by Kofi Annan and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. In 2020, he was included on Time Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People of the year. Yo-Yo Ma’s desire to apply his talents outside of the classical realm has resulted in successful collaborations with James Taylor, Carlos Santana, Bobby McFerrin, and others. In 2020, Yo-Yo Ma collaborated with bluegrass artists Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer, and Stuart Duncan on the album Not Our First Goat Rodeo, a follow-up to their successful 2011 collaboration album The Goad Rodeo Sessions. In December 2020, Yo-Yo Ma collaborated with pianist Kathryn Stott again – their first was 2015’s Songs from the Arc of Life – and released the album Songs of Comfort and Hope, an album created to help inspire listeners during the COVID-19 pandemic.