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Renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma and acclaimed pianist Kathryn Scott gave a performance at Granada Theater this past Thursday followed by a Friday Master Class at the Lobero Theater, where Ma mentored select UCSB music students.

The recipient of over 16 Grammy awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and numerous other titles, Ma has been widely recognized as one of the most talented classical musicians in the world. Scott, who is known throughout the UK for her virtuosity at the piano, has worked with Ma for over 30 years. Their performance Thursday and Friday’s master class were both hosted by Arts & Lectures.

Celeste Billeci, the Miller McCune Executive Director of Arts and Lectures, introduced the event, stating Yo-Yo Ma is “committed to making music and creativity a vital part of young people’s lives.”

“As Yo-Yo Ma himself has said … Arts & Lectures presents the world onstage, on one stage. You never have to leave Santa Barbara, the world comes to you,” Billeci said.

Ma and Scott eased into the evening concert with a focused rendition of Igor Stravinsky’s Suite italian. The intermix of piano and cello remained complementary throughout, heightened by the equally lively immersion of both artists in the suite’s Andante before ending to enthusiastic applause with the light “minuette e finale.”

Next came Alma brasileira by Heitor Villa-Lobos, arranged for piano and cello by Argentinian composer Jorge Calandrelli, Oblivion by Astor Piazzolla arranged by Kyoko Yamamoto, and an energetic performance of Dansa negra by Camargo Guarnieri, also arranged by Calandrelli.

Before intermission, the pair played 7 canciones populares españolas, G. 40 by Manuel de Falla. Kelsy DeSchryver, who is House Manager of Arts and Lectures, said the event was going surprisingly smoothly considering the size of the audience.

“People have been coming up to the table and just seem really, really exited about the CD’s, so I think the people here are just really excited about Yo-Yo Ma’s music,” DeSchryver said. “We haven’t encountered an unhappy patron yet.”

Continuing with the Latin theme, Ma and Scott treated patrons to Olivier Messiaen’s “Louange à l’éternité de Jésus” from Quatuor pour la fin du temps and Johannes Brahms’ Violin Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, op. 108 after intermission. This second half of the performance, Ma’s mastery of tension was highlighted in the modulating strains of Messiaen’s piece, concluding by holding the audience through a twenty second silence. Both Scott and Ma ended the night with a performance of Brahms’ “Finale: Presto agitato” deserving of the dramatic title, each moving in coinciding fervor with the music.

Ma led Scott in throwing bouquets the pair received on stage into the audience, eliciting cheers and renewed applause, before exiting. The theater boomed with excitement as the pair immediately returned, to play an encore of Edward Elgar’s “Salut d’amour” not scheduled in the program notes.

Chancellor Yang, who remained in the lobby greeting patrons after the performance, expressed sincere wonder at Scott and Ma’s talent.

“This music is kind of … like coming from heaven,” Yang said. “You really don’t have too many chances in life to listen to this.”

Photo by Peter Vandenbelt / Daily Nexus

This story appeared as an online exclusive on Friday, March 14, 2014.

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