Cellist Yo-Yo Ma

(Photo: Jason Bell)

One of the world's most admired musicians is about to play a unique concert at Colorado's most famous concert venue.

Superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma will play Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Aug. 1. The cellist will perform Johann Sebastian Bach's six unaccompanied Cello Suites -- pieces Ma has returned to throughout his career -- according to the Colorado Symphony, which unveiled details about the concert Friday.

The Red Rocks performance is part of a two-year tour that will see Ma play the suites at venues across six continents. With a seating capacity of about 9,500, Red Rocks is an unusually massive setting for a solo recital. 

But Ma has already played the suites for a huge audience with memorable results. The Los Angeles Times described a magical evening last September when the cellist played the suites at the Hollywood Bowl: 

He was a very small figure seated on a wide expanse, a large stage empty but for a cellist on a chair. The Hollywood Bowl shell was lighted midnight blue. The amphitheater was probably kept as dark as the fire marshal would allow. Few of the more than 17,000 seats were empty.

Then for two hours and 40 minutes Tuesday night, Yo-Yo Ma played all six of Bach's solo cello suites straight though, with just a 10-minute pause in the middle.

...

A large Bowl crowd, attracted by the presence of a superstar, might be presumed to want merely a picnic and a nice late-summer night out. This audience sat in nearly unbelievable rapt attention focused on Ma as each musically complex and austere six-movement suite followed suite.

Here at CPR Classical, Bach's Cello Suites represent some of the most frequently performed piece in our Performance Studio. They've been featured in sessions with cellists Jay Campbell of the JACK Quartet and Silver Ainomae of the Colorado Symphony. We've even heard them on electric violin courtesy of Boulder Bach Festival's Zachary Carrettin. 

Watch Ma play the first of Bach's six Cello Suites at the BBC Proms in 2015: