March 17, 2009

Yo-Yo Ma to perform at New York museum

Chinese-American cellist Yo-Yo Ma has agreed to perform the world premiere of Self Comes to Mind, New York's American Museum of Natural History said.

Ma will be accompanied by two percussionists for the May 3 performance at the museum's LeFrak Theater.

This unusual and evocative new work was composed by Bruce Adolphe in collaboration with neuroscientist Antonio Damasio and was inspired by Damasio's writings concerning the evolution of human consciousness, the museum said in a news release. As the piece is performed on stage, the screen will fill with various brain images -- many in vivid colors -- from an interactive video commissioned specially for this performance.

The premiere is to be followed by a conversation with Ma, Adolphe and Damasio, moderated by science writer Jonah Lehrer.

The participants are expected to discuss consciousness, creativity, music and the genesis of the collaboration behind Self Comes to Mind.

Science is inspiring and provocative for composition because it uses terms and images that embrace musical action, Adolphe said in a statement. But more specifically, neuroscience, for me, has opened up a world of musical ideas because I have come to suspect that music itself is an expression of our physical minds, or the way our minds work. Antonio's science writing gives me, as a composer, images that provoke structural consequences in the music, and his poetic nature allows for the ambiguity necessary to abstraction and musical expression.