The most valuable prize in the world of classical music was presented to star cellist Yo-Yo Ma in Stockholm.
“Am I really an opera singer? That’s what I asked myself, but soon I realized that this only applies while taking a shower.” The American cellist Yo-Yo joked to the news that he had been awarded the Birgit Nilsson Prize, funded by the Swedish singer’s estate, Million dollars. With this he wants to continue his “Bach Project”. Since 2018, he has been traveling around the world with Bach’s Six Cello Wings, he has already been to five continents, and will soon take over Antarctica. Brings together local groups for discussions and music projects.
Ma first thanked him for the award on Sunday with Dvořák’s Cello Concerto. The fine voice and brave phrasing with which he played his way into American popular culture showed him as one of the very few classical musicians. After all, he performed with The Simpsons and with Miley Cyrus.
At the magnificent party on Tuesday at the Concerthaus in Stockholm, not only was Yo-Yo Ma celebrated, but also the memory of Birgit Nilsson. It began with her in a darkened hall with an excerpt from “Tannhäuser”, and when the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra played “Joyfully Welcome to the Noble Hall” from the same opera, it had something sacred to her. In the anthem after the entry of King Carl XVI. Gustav realized that the cultural country of Sweden is also celebrated. Ma acknowledged this in his speech by placing Nelson alongside Dag Hammarskjöld, Ingmar Bergmann and Greta Thunberg. When he spoke of the climate activist, a faint whisper murmured in the hall. The King, in a good mood, removed some of the evening’s celebration when he presented the award with a small pantomime. Yo-Yo Ma’s longtime piano partner Katherine Stott concluded her eulogy with a very Swedish pop quote: “Yo-Yo, thank you for the music!”
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