This man is my hero.
Yeah, I do happen to play the cello, but still. What's inspiring to me about him is that he's so versatile as a musician. This is a guy who can play concertos at Carnegie Hall, but at the same time isn't afraid to record Beatles tunes. In fact, he's recorded in a lot of different styles, from jazz to folk to bluegrass to tango. Here's a Time Magazine video about a Christmas CD he recorded a few years ago. (Our friend Jake Shimabukuro makes an appearance!)
The best thing about him is that he's not pretentious. He's not all "I'm-a-great-artiste" or whatever. He just wants to make good music and bring people together through music. In so many ways, he's what I aspire to be as a musician, as well as an educator. He founded an organization called the Silk Road Project, which, according to the website, is "... a not-for-profit arts and educational organization, a catalyst promoting innovation and learning through the arts." It's basically an organization that uses music to connect people from all around the world, which I think is pretty darn cool.
He doesn't write lyrics (obviously), so I can't use that to fill up any space in my post. I'll just let you guys listen to him play a little. Here's a video of him playing the 1st movement of the Elgar cello concerto at Carnegie Hall. I know that 10 minutes of classical music is a lot to ask, but listen at least to the first 3 minutes or so if you have the time. He starts playing at about 0:25. When I listen to this concerto, I like to imagine the cello as a lonely figure wandering through a barren landscape. It's like, in playing it, he's taking a long and dramatic journey through the music.
Here he is with another of my favorite musicians, James Taylor, playing "Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles. I just love this recording.
One more. He played an arrangement of "Simple Gifts" in a quartet at Obama's inauguration. I just love the joy on his face and the wordless communication with the other players as he plays.
As Chuck mentioned yesterday, this is a lot of music and we all have busy lives to live. If you can, listen at least to the beginning of the Elgar and some of "Here Comes the Sun." However, if you can listen to all of them, I'd recommend it. ;)
I look forward to discovering the musicians the rest of you guys write about. I definitely enjoyed Chuck's post yesterday!