Cellist Yo-Yo Ma hosts virtual event with UM on Thursday



ANN ARBOR – Renowned cellist and current artist in residence at the University of Michigan, Yo-Yo Ma and other artists will hold a free virtual event open to the public on Thursday, September 23.

The event starts at 7 p.m. and before registration is required.

During the event, Ma will be joined by Michigan artists Avery Williamson, Nour Ballout, Tunde Olaniran and four UM students to explore – and map – the emotional journeys people have taken over the eighteen recent months under the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The artists have developed travel guides for the event that will allow each spectator to create their own “heart map” marking the relationships, rituals, isolation and grief experienced since March 2020.

The event “Travel guide to speak the heart” is presented in partnership with the UM artistic initiative and UMS.

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Yo-Yo Ma (left) and Tunde Olaniran on stage during his “Day of Action” in Flint, Michigan in February 2019, organized in partnership with the University Musical Society at the University of Michigan. (E.Bronson / Michigan Photography)

Olaniran initially proposed the idea of ​​a “heart map” following informal and collaborative discussions.

“During the pandemic, relationships burned down, and the way you would normally deal with grief – whether it was the death of a loved one or the end of a relationship – would be in a community, but during the pandemic, we couldn’t do it, ”Ballout, a Detroit-based artist, curator and lead artist on the project, said in a statement. “I wanted to create a ritual for this healing.”

Read: Yo-Yo Ma joins the University of Michigan for a new residency covering all three campuses

“‘The Travel Guide for Talking Hearts’ shows how bringing powerful creators to campus can help our community understand how we and others came through this exceptionally difficult time,” Arts Initiative Co-Chair Jonathan Massey, Dean of A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urbanism, said in a statement.

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Ma started her residency in April to explore the past year under the pandemic within the UM community through the arts.

According to a UM statement, other components of the “Travel Guide for Speaking Hearts” project include:

  • A virtual Talking Hearts Portal, where community members are encouraged to submit their experiences, either through written responses to selected prompts, or through audio or video clips.
  • Speaking Hearts Phrasebook: Intended to encourage conversations that build and strengthen relationships and normalize connection with and care for those around us. The guide was designed in collaboration with Wolverine Wellness.
  • Billboards and bus banners will be displayed throughout Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint with “heart card” artwork by local artists Williamson, Cyrah Dardas and Amanda Edwards, as well as selected students from each campus. .

  • A series of live and in-person performances with regional artists will begin with Dani Darling September 24 at Ingalls Mall. Performances by mBtheLight Blaire and Natasha Thomas will be announced coming soon to the Flint and Dearborn campuses. These are pop-up events meant to meet students where they are as they walk around campus.
  • Students working on the project documented it from their perspective in the The Talking Hearts Blog.

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