Yo-Yo Ma hands over the reins of Silk Road Ensemble

Yo-Yo Ma is stepping down as artistic director of Silk Road Ensemble. Formed in 1998 by Ma, the collaborative world music ensemble has won critical praise and sold millions of albums over the last 20 years.

“Silkroad turns twenty next year,” said Ma. “Like a teenager approaching adulthood, we are exploring our purpose in the world. For us, this means thinking about how to share what we have learned to build a more hopeful future … at this turning point, we are formalising a new approach to leadership that celebrates that collaborative spirit.”

Three musicians will now share the artistic director role: bassist Jeffrey Beecher, violist Nicholas Cords and percussionist Shane Shanahan. Ma described them as “three extraordinary colleagues” and said their partnership will continue to bring “passion and curiosity … the radical cultural collaboration that is essential to creating a better world.”

In a joint statement, the ensemble’s new leaders announced: “A new commitment to diversity and inclusion across our board, staff, and ensemble, as well as among our collaborators and in our audiences.”

Further, Silk Road will unleash a new series of US-based residencies. These will see artists that the ensemble has engaged with from all over the world coming to study, collaborate and perform in America.

Finally, the ensemble will mark its twentieth season with an array of new commissions.