Yo-Yo Ma
Joi Ito

Yo-Yo Ma Plays Impromptu Performance At COVID Vaccination Site

Those receiving COVID-19 vaccinations on Berkshire Community College’s Pittsfield, Massachusetts campus were treated to an exceptional surprise performance by cellist Yo-Yo Ma when the world renowned musician was scheduled to get his own shot.

During the customary 15-minute post-dose observation period, Ma performed Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria” and the prelude to Bach’s “Cello Suite No. 1” on his cello. In an interview Tuesday with TODAY’s Jenna Bush Hager, the 65-year-old explained he couldn’t leave his instrument in the car for insurance reasons so he brought the prized instrument inside when he and his wife went for their vaccines. Jonah Sykes, associate director of marketing and communications at the college, said “Many people were moved to tears,” and that “It was an exceptional moment at the end of a long day of giving shots.”

Ma received his vaccination on the one-year anniversary of his #SongsOfComfort launch on Twitter, a series of live recordings of him playing the cello, hoping to bring comfort to those suddenly forced to stay at home. Shortly thereafter other musicians added to the hashtag, turning the social media post into a worldwide project which subsequently inspired Ma’s album release Songs of Comfort and Hope, in December with British pianist Kathryn Stott. 

Watch multiple clips of Yo-Yo Ma performing at the COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Photo: Joi Ito