Yo-Yo Ma Gives Surprise Concert After Getting Second COVID-19 Vaccine Dose

yo yo ma covid vaccine concert
Berkshire Community College/Facebook

Those who have gotten a COVID-19 vaccination know that once you get your shot, you’re supposed to wait for 15 minutes at the vaccination site to make sure you don’t experience any immediate side effects.

Posted by Berkshire Community College on Saturday, March 13, 2021

Yo-Yo Ma knew that, and when he got his second dose at Berkshire Community College’s vaccination site on Saturday, he made the most of it. He brought his cello, and gave an impromptu concert for those who happened to be at the site.

CBS News reported, “During the customary 15-minute observation period that follows each dose, Ma performed Franz Schubert’s ‘Ave Maria’ and the prelude to Bach’s ‘Cello Suite No. 1’ on his cello, which he’d brought with him.”

Posted by Berkshire Community College on Saturday, March 13, 2021

Jonah Sykes, associate director of marketing and communications at the Pittsfield, Massachusetts, college, noted, “He asked one of our clinic managers if he could perform a few songs for folks in the observation area.” 

As the Berkshire Eagle reported, “The world-famous cellist and part-time Berkshires resident completed his vaccination course at the field house clinic.” The paper also quoted Richard Hall of the Berkshire COVID-19 Vaccine Collaborative saying Ma “wanted to give something back” with the concert.

Posted by Berkshire Community College on Saturday, March 13, 2021

It went on to describe, “Yo-Yo Ma took a seat along the wall of the observation area, masked and socially distanced away from the others. He went on to pass 15 minutes in observation playing cello for an applauding audience.”

Clearly, it was a special event, and people involved with the day’s events found it moving. “Many people were moved to tears,” said Sykes. “It was an exceptional moment at the end of a long day of giving shots.”

Posted by Berkshire Community College on Saturday, March 13, 2021

The cellist isn’t new to using music to provide solace in this time of coronavirus. As CBS News reported, Ma received his vaccination on the anniversary of launching #SongsOfComfort on Twitter, a series of live recordings of him playing his cello, hoping to bring comfort to those suddenly forced to stay at home.

As the article noted, other musicians soon added to the hashtag, making the project go global. Ma even released an album as an outgrowth of the project, Songs of Comfort and Hope with British pianist Kathryn Stott this past December.

It also noted, “Ma has been performing since stay-home orders were issued for the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. In August, he and classical pianist Emmanuel Ax put on a series of pop-up concerts for essential frontline workers—public transportation drivers, firefighters, healthcare providers and more—in the Berkshires region.”


Written by Phil West