Cello legend Yo-Yo Ma came to Colbert's Late Show to put a twist on three classical favorites and promote his new album, Songs from the Arc of Life. Check out the performances, courtesy of Colbert's YouTube page.
Yo-Yo Ma & Misty Copeland Perform Bach's "Courante from Cello Suite No. 2 in D Minor"
The twist in this first video was not in the arrangement, but in the special guest dancer, Misty Copeland. Misty, who is the first African-American woman in the 75 year history of American Ballet Theatre to become principal dancer, has led an enormously successful career in both classical ballet and broadway choreography. Her performance on Stephen Colbert's Late Show is wonderfully imaginative and totally appropriate for this selection, as the "courante" is a baroque dance form.
The coolest thing about this performance is that CBS and Stephen Colbert's Late Show is giving classical music and the arts exposure to a wider audience. The diverse musical interests of Yo-Yo Ma and his collaboration with ballerina Misty Copeland helps to bring together different types of audiences, cultivating the global community of artists and art lovers.
Yo-Yo Ma & Jon Batiste Perform Gershwin's "Prelude No. 1"
This jaw-dropping arrangement of the first of George Gershwin's beloved "3 Preludes" for solo piano features Yo-Yo and pianist Jon Batiste trading off some fiery jazz licks. Their performance is so intense and spot on, it's hard to imagine this prelude existing as anything besides a cello sonata. Compare this to the original solo piano version.
Yo-Yo Ma Performs Saint-Saëns' "The Swan" with Jon Batiste and Stay Human
For many student cellists, "The Swan" from Camille Saint-Saëns' chamber music suite The Carnival Of The Animals is their first taste of authentic classical repertoire. For this Colbert performance, the original arrangement of cello and two pianos is replaced by a jazz sextet of cello, alto sax, piano, guitar, bass and drums. While much of the melody is retained, the players embellish and improvise a bit throughout. The trade-off between Yo-Yo and the alto sax on the melody is especially nice. Compare this version to the traditional arrangement.
Yo-Yo Ma sat in with Jon Batiste and Stay Human for the whole episode, which you can watch on CBS.com.
For more Yo-Yo Ma music news and concert listings, be sure to check out his Zumic Artists Page.