Cellist Yo-Yo Ma has a challenge for you, his fans and fellow musicians. It springs from his most recent release, Songs of Joy and Peace, a series of collaborations with such well-known musicians as pianist Dave Brubeck, soprano Renee Fleming, bassist Edgar Meyer and mandolinist Chris Thile.
Now, you can join Yo-Yo Ma online and produce your virtual collaboration with him. Download Ma playing "Dona Nobis Pacem" from www.indabamusic.com, add your music and mix. Then upload it back to the site, where you can hear all of the submissions. After the contest deadline — New Year's Eve — Ma will pick a winner. He says he's trying to use the Internet to turn a CD into an interactive experience.
"The thing that I've always been slightly frustrated with," Ma says, "was that the idea of a CD is kind of confined to a material possession that you can put on a shelf. And the idea of music, for me, is always about both the communication and the sharing of content. And so the interactive part is missing."
Ma says he plans to meet with the winner and make music. But keep this in mind as you work on your collaboration: "Dona Nobis Pacem" is Latin for "Give Us Peace." The cellist is not only interested in how well you play your instrument, but also how well you connect with the spirit of the music.
"When you deal with that subject — give us peace — it is such a wide subject, but it does need very focused approaches in order to achieve that goal, both musically as well as — as we all know — in real life," Ma says.