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Cellist Yo-Yo Ma Gave a Performance at the U.S.-Mexico Border to Deliver a Unifying Message

2 minute read

On Saturday morning, famous classical musician Yo-Yo Ma brought his cello to the Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge, which connects the twin cities of Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico to play Bach’s “Suite No. 1 for Unaccompanied Cello.”

The performance was part of Ma’s “Bach Project,” in which the world-renowned musician has endeavored to perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s six suites for solo cello in 36 locations around the world in a celebration of our common humanity during what he sees as an era of deep division.

On Saturday, that journey brought Ma to the US-Mexico border.

“I’ve lived my life at the borders between cultures, between disciplines, between musics, between generations,” Ma said to his audience, in a message about unity.

“A country is not a hotel, and it’s not full,” Ma said, referencing recent comments President Trump has made on border security, in which the President declared America to be “full.”

Ma’s performance was also part of a “Day of Action” in Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, meant to celebrate the connection between the U.S. and Mexican communities on either side of the border through performances in both cities, according to National Public Radio.

Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz emphasized the cross-border connection at Ma’s performance.

“Although people may perceive us as being so different, we’re not,” he said, according to NPR. “Here the border is extremely unique in that it’s one organism. I’ve always said we’re interdependent, interconnected. We survived because the border side survives, especially here on the border area.”

On social media, fans of Ma reacted to his performance with gratitude for his unifying intent.

For his “Bach Project,” Ma previously perform in Mexico City and San Juan, Puerto Rico. His upcoming stops include Chicago, Ill., Athens, Greece, and Christchurch, New Zealand.

Watch footage from Saturday’s performance here:

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Write to Alejandro de la Garza at alejandro.delagarza@time.com