Famed Cellist Yo-Yo Ma Serenades Vaccination Clinic

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The COVID-19 pandemic certainly has its share of side stories — from tragic to inspiring — but it’s safe to say nobody had a world-renowned cellist serenading people at a vaccination clinic on their list of potential pandemic chronicles. 

So, picture the scene last Saturday afternoon, when Yo-Yo Ma played a little Bach after getting his second coronavirus dose at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, Mass. 

“It was so weird how peaceful the whole building became, just having a little bit of music in the background,” Leslie Drager, the lead public health nurse for Berkshire Public Health Alliance, told the Washington Post. 

Ma, 65, took his seat along a padded blue wall of the gym, while others were waiting out their 15-minute post-vaccination clearance time. The place went quiet when he started playing. 

On this particular Saturday, 1,102 second-dose shots were administered. Ma arrived toward the end of the day. 

“People are talking and moving, there are lots of volunteers, and everybody just went quiet and went to watch and listen,” Drager said. 

Ma had a degree on anonymity when he got his first dose. Not so the second time around – since he brought his cello. When an 18-time Grammy award-winner gives an impromptu performance, people tend to perk up. 

He played the prelude to Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major as well as “Ave Maria.” 

Ma received his vaccination on the one-year anniversary of launching #SongsOfComfort on Twitter. He has since posted a series of live recordings of him playing his cello, with the intent of bringing comfort to those in pandemic lockdown. 

“In these days of anxiety, I wanted to find a way to continue to share some of the music that gives me comfort,” Ma tweeted March 13, 2020.  

He continues his inspirational and comforting journey, sometimes in the most unlikely of places. 

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