Lawrence Sumulong/Courtesy of Sony Music
“I’d already learned about this wunderkind who played cello, and was very excited to meet him when he came to the [Boston] Pops for one of our television recordings,” recalls John Williams, renowned composer of unforgettable film scores like Star Wars and Jurassic Park, of his first hearing another musical star, the cellist Yo-Yo Ma. “I was enormously impressed with this fantastically mature art from such a young person.”
“John has a great capacity to make me blush,” Ma laughs.
On a new album, A Gathering of Friends, Williams and Ma continue an artistic collaboration going all the way back to Williams’ tenure as conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra in the early ’80s, eventually resulting in Williams composing a cello concerto with Ma’s preternatural talent in mind. The new album includes a revisited version of that concerto, along with new arrangements of film scores including Schindler’s List, Lincoln and Munich featuring the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Williams.
The pair sat down with All Things Considered‘s Mary Louise Kelly to recall those collaborative beginnings, the process of creating for film and to share (some of) the enormous respect they have for each other… and maybe poke a little fun.
You can hear this conversation using the audio player at the top of this page.