A program from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts called Arts Across America came to Fort Lauderdale Sunday to sponsor master cellist Yo-Yo Ma in a community discussion about the power of art.
Ma demonstrated his cello skills in front of a crowd of a few hundred gathered at the Parker Playhouse. It was all in the name of highlighting the power of art in Fort Lauderdale. He even had some advice to give to a young cellist in the crowd:
“When you’re trying to play something, you’re not trying to go for perfection - you’re trying to express,” Ma said.
Ma helped put together the Arts Across America program with the Kennedy Center. On his Fort Lauderdale visit, he explored the art scene and the incubator Art Serve where artists can go to exhibit their works.
“We were at Art Serve this morning, and then we went to this Fat Village. I got my hair cut there,” Ma said. “But seriously an arts incubator, accelerator, where people doing good things actually get reinforcement.”
Fellow Silkroad ensemble artist Cristina Pato joined Ma on the panel to discuss what residents can do to enhance local art culture.
“I try to use this instrument as a metaphor to bring very uncomfortable conversations to the table, through my instrument,” Pato said. “One of them is….this idea of powerful women in the arts trying to lead the conversation…and remind us what is important.”
Also on the panel were U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat who represents portions of Broward County, Germaine Smith-Baugh, president of the Urban League of Broward County, and County Commissioner Chip LaMarca.
On Sunday evening after the community discussion, Ma performed at a private concert held at Dillard High School nearby. Some local performers were invited to attend, including students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where a February mass shooting killed 17.
Monday, Ma will visit Walker Elementary School and Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, to play with students and go to classrooms to talk about why art programs are important.