UCSB House Calls to feature Yo-Yo Ma, Kathryn Stott
UCSB Arts & Lectures is presenting another House Calls virtual event at 5 p.m. Wednesday, featuring beloved cellist Yo-Yo Ma, acclaimed pianist Kathryn Stott and their recent collaborative album called “Songs of Comfort and Hope.”
The two classical musicians have had a musical relationship for more than 35 years. And with their new album released in 2020, they hope to encourage a sense of community, identity and purpose in the pandemic world.
“I was trying to imagine what the people were fearing, and how awful, isolated, scared and very much apart from all their loved ones (they were) and thought music could give some comfort,” Ms. Stott told the News-Press. “One of the things I thought of was that when we see something that we know, that gives us great memories, so there are a lot of songs people will feel really familiar with and will say, ‘I remember hearing that one,’ or things like that. That’s really how it began.”
Classical favorites featured in the album include “Amazing Grace,” “Ol’ Man River” and “Over the Rainbow,” among others. However, the seasoned musicians put their own spin on the fan favorites.
“Some things will be instantly recognizable and others have a little bit of a new twist to keep things moving,” Ms. Stott said. “Each song has a message of some sort, so it may be something comforting, it may be something that’s optimistic. But it’s all about time that’s gone by, time going on, love and death and all those things. It’s a wonderful, I would say, kaleidoscope of life that we put into this album.”
“Songs of Comfort and Hope” has 21 tracks, ranging from fresh arrangements of traditional folk tunes, pop songs and jazz standards to mainstays from the western classical repertoire. The virtual performance will run for approximately an hour and 20 minutes, and ticket holders will be able to replay the event for a week. Yo-Yo Ma will also take questions from attendees following the performance.
Yo-Yo Ma has come to perform at UCSB in person for many years, and is a great friend of UCSB A&L. Ms. Stott met him in 1978 in what she calls “one of the most fortuitous moments of her life.” Since then, the two have collaborated in musical pursuits all over the world.
Ms. Stott said she’s done a few live streams and virtual performances since the pandemic, but added that she didn’t know what it was like in the U.S. at the start of COVID-19, but in the UK, “the world just went silent.”
“In the beginning, there was nothing,” she said. “There was no music and very few concerts, and we’re just now beginning to have the possibility to have real people listening. It’s been a very long time.”
However, the pianist said music is important to get through the pandemic, and she hopes the familiar beats and melodies in “Songs of Comfort and Hope” do just that — comfort listeners and provide hope.
“When you feel really lost and you just have this great void, music can really touch your heart,” Ms. Stott said. “You don’t necessarily need the words — it can just bring you closer to something.
“I know when I hear certain pieces or songs or whatever it might be, I think, ‘That really reminds me of this,’ or you know when you eat something and say, ‘I remember that flavor as a child …’ I think music can do that to us in general, but it’s what I want is to try and pinpoint on this album. Every single track, it will take (listeners) to a place … Music is a way to connect us.”