Somewhere, the music gods are smiling over the holidays. The stars aligned and brought classical music together with bluegrass, achieving some truly astounding results. But let me take a step back.
Yo-Yo Ma is a world-class cellist who has made a career not only out of gorgeous classical music, but for pushing boundaries and collaborating with musicians of any and all genres, from a cappella maestro Bobby McFerrin to one of the preeminent violinists of the last century, Itzhak Perlman. In addition, he has worked with orchestras around the world and helped out with music education efforts worldwide. Thankfully, the world has recognized his efforts and he's been awarded multiple awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010. He currently serves as a UN Messenger of Peace and on the President's Committee on the Arts & Humanities.
And now he can add a collaboration with bluegrass artists Chris Thile (on mandolin and member of Nickel Creek and the Punch Brothers), Edgar Meyer (bass), and Stuart Duncan (fiddle). The result is a collection of songs in The Goat Rodeo Sessions that not only debuted at #1 on the Bluegrass, Classical, and Classical Crossover Billboard charts, but has made it to #18 on the Billboard Top 200 and at #11 on Soundscan's Digital Album chart. And if all that attention isn't enough to get you to listen to this album, I encourage you to watch this video of their performance on The Colbert Report:
Though I've listened to my share of classical music over the years, one of my more recent discoveries has been the life and energy in bluegrass music. Groups like Crooked Still and the Greencards have brought a new joy to my ears in recent years. So I think I was on a collision course with this album from the first time I heard the quartet play in the videos on Colbert.