Pittsfield, MA

Yo-Yo-Ma Gave Surprise Performance at COVID Vaccine Site

Synthia Stark


Photo of Yo-Yo-Ma taken by Berkshire Community College

When we had the regular flu, we often had many remedies or foods to help alleviate the situation. For example, maybe your grandmother prepared her most famous chicken soup recipe. Perhaps you took your medicine that the doctor prescribed to you. Maybe you stayed in bed until you felt better.

When it comes to our health, we got to do what is necessary to arm ourselves against the ongoing virus. It’s a relief that many people are finally able to take their shots, especially since we’re well past the 1-year mark since the pandemic first started. 

In Pittsfield, Massachusetts, some lucky people were able to get their COVID-19 vaccinations at the Berkshire Community College’s field house clinic. On that same day, Yo-Yo-Ma was receiving his second inoculation dose. These lucky people became even luckier — especially since they didn’t expect such a cameo from a famous musician.

While Yo-Yo-Ma was waiting out his 15-minute observation period, he sat down to play an impromptu concert. He was fully masked and complied with social distancing guidelines. Some of the songs he played included “Ave Maria” and Bach’s Prelude in G Major. People were able to hear him perform, and they appreciated the gesture.

In fact, the entire audience applauded him.

Apparently, Yo-Yo-Ma wanted to give something back to the community and is a part-time Berkshire resident himself. Since Yo-Yo-Ma was a child prodigy back in his day, particularly as a cellist, it made sense for him to do what he did. To date, Yo-Yo-Ma has received 18 Grammy awards across his long and accomplished career and has personally released well over 90 albums in his lifetime.

After his little concert, Berkshire Community College decided to publish footage of the performance online and it went semi-viral — for wholesome reasons. 

It was not Yo-Yo-Ma’s first time performing a mini-concert. Throughout this pandemic, Yo-Yo-Ma has used his creative genius in music to provide calm for many people during this pandemic.

The day of his second inoculation literally marked the one-year anniversary of a series of performances he initiated in 2020. The performances from 2020 were heralded as the trending hashtag of #SongsofComfort. The very first piece he performed was Dvorák’s Going Home.

Back in March 2020, Yo-Yo-Ma shared the following tweet: 

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

It’s great that Yo-Yo-Ma shared some of his musical talents as a means of helping others cope. Yo-Yo-Ma also did other charitable and noteworthy causes recently. For example, back in September 2020, he teamed up with classical pianist Emanuel Ax for a live-stream virtual concert that was primarily for essential workers.

Since essential workers are busy, these gestures of appreciation were well-received. Plus, the duo also did a string of spontaneous spur-of-the-moment concerts for other people working at the frontlines. Yo-Yo-Ma reportedly did this because he was thankful for the hard work that our frontline heroes are doing — and are still doing. Knowing that the frontline workers aren’t afforded many breaks, let alone compassionate fatigue, the least that these renowned celebrities can do is help bring awareness and appreciation towards others in need.

When it’s hard to keep going, music often helps us and motivates us. Whether it is rap, classical, country, pop, rock, or some other genre, music unites many people together and helps us feel a little better. While we cannot control what is happening to the bigger and wider world, we can control how we respond to those situations. Sometimes, it just takes a little music for this to happen.

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Mental Health Professional | Crisis Responder | Science Writer


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