Yo-Yo Ma, speaking at Harvard: ‘It’s never art for art’s sake’

Friday, March 15, 2019 - 12:50 in Psychology & Sociology

Creating and performing music can seem far removed from efforts to promote social justice, but two prominent speakers urged an audience at Harvard Business School Wednesday to see them as intimately related pursuits. Renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma ’76 and Deborah Borda, president and CEO of the New York Philharmonic, in a conversation moderated by Harvard Business School Professors Rohit Deshpandé and Henry McGee, discussed the ways in which “citizen musicians” can help build a more just and free society as an extension of their work as artists. “What the New York Philharmonic is doing, and what I’m devoting the rest of my life to doing, is really thinking about social impact,” Ma said. “I’m not doing this because I need a job.” Ma said embracing the issues of the world was natural for a musician, and dismissed the idea of “art for art’s sake.” “We have a bigger purpose,” he said. “It’s never art...

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