'Goat Rodeo': Creating musical chaos
As Yo-Yo Ma prepares to lead the ‘Goat Rodeo,’ a rare combo which includes artists from far-flung genres, the cellist muses about collaboration and the future of concert performances.
Way to save on carbon emissions. When Yo-Yo Ma leads his notable crew through a one-off performance of “The Goat Rodeo Sessions,” he’ll cut touring to the bare minimum as the show is simultaneously projected in 400 theaters nationwide.
“What excites us most is to be able to get behind the music we love, and have fun playing it, and share it with as many people in so many places,” says Ma.
“The Goat Rodeo Sessions” is an album that the celebrated cellist created with disparate musical peers Stuart Duncan on fiddle, Edgar Meyer on bass and Chris Thile of Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers on mandolin.
“This originally came together as a recording project, but we were excited to play it for people,”?says Ma. “But with everybody so busy, we saw that we wouldn’t be able to perform it on a tour until the summer after this one.”
Waiting that long was unacceptable. The most important thing wasn’t the method of delivery, but getting the music in front of an audience while the fun was still fresh.
“The chemistry is amazing: Four people totally in collaboration, egos in place, and never a harsh word,” says Ma.
The Boston performance adds a fifth member in the shape of heavenly voiced Crooked Still singer Aoife O’Donovan, who proves to be another seamless element.
“Chris said, ‘Let’s get Aoife to do it,’”?says Ma. “The magic when the two of them vocalize, it’s just beautiful. They sound like one person.”
Just what is a goat rodeo? While the rustic name perfectly suits this cowpoke concerto, which crisscrosses bluegrass and classical music, goat rodeo is an aviation term for a situation of total chaos where everything then needs to go right for a safe landing. “Creation is chaotic by design,” says Ma. “But if you make all the right choices then you hopefully have a good result.”