The many-faceted career of cellist Yo-Yo Ma is testament to his continual search for new ways to communicate through music and to his personal desire for artistic growth and renewal.
A musician renowned for his performance of repertoire from the classical Western European tradition as well as for his collaborations across cultures, he has a discography of more than 75 albums, earning him 15 Grammy Awards. He is one of the best-selling recording artists in the history of the classical field. Mr. Ma is the founder and artistic director of the Silk Road Project, a nonprofit arts and educational organization that takes inspiration from the historic Silk Road trading routes as a modern metaphor for multicultural and interdisciplinary exchange.
He has received numerous awards, including the 1978 Avery Fisher Prize, the 1999 Glenn Gould Prize, the 2001 National Medal of Arts, the 2006 Dan David Prize and the 2008 World Economic Forum's Crystal Award. He is a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Appointed a CultureConnect Ambassador by the U.S. Department of State in 2002, Mr. Ma has met with, trained and mentored thousands of students worldwide.
In 2006, he was designated a United Nations Messenger of Peace, and in 2010 President Barack Obama presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.
Honorary Degree Citation
Educator, mentor, orchestral composer, internationally acclaimed cellist virtuoso. Your brilliance as a musician and your exuberant personality have allowed you to introduce music to countless millions and to serve as a cultural ambassador worldwide. Renowned for performance of repertoire from the classical Western European tradition and for collaborations across cultures, you have earned Grammy Awards for 15 of your more than 75 recorded albums. Founder and artistic director of the Silk Road Project, a nonprofit arts and educational organization that draws inspiration from the historic Silk Road as a metaphor for multicultural and interdisciplinary exchange, you have been honored with the 1978 Avery Fisher Prize, the 1999 Glenn Gould Prize and the 2001 National Medal of Arts, among others. A member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and a CultureConnect Ambassador of the U.S. Department of State, you have personally trained and mentored thousands of students around the world. Your multi-faceted career is testimony to the power to communicate through music, the truly universal language. In 2010, President Barack Obama bestowed on you the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest civilian honor.
For your excellence as a cellist and composer and your dedication to making music and creativity vital elements in the lives of young people, Brandeis University is proud to bestow upon you its highest honor.