Yo-Yo Ma Kicks Off Montgomery Fellows Spring Lineup

The celebrated cellist will give a talk and perform with the Silkroad Ensemble.

The Montgomery Fellows program is coming in like a lion this spring, beginning with a short residency—including a public lecture and a performance—with famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Ma will speak at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 4, at Spaulding Auditorium, on the subject of “Culture, Understanding, and Survival.” The talk is free and open to the public.

The following evening, Ma returns to Spaulding to join the Silkroad Ensemble for a sold-out performance, at which they will premiere a work by Chinese composer Jia Daqun. In addition, the Hop will screen the documentary The Music of Strangers, about the ensemble, at 7:30 p.m. on April 2 in the Loew Auditorium at the Black Family Visual Arts Center.

The Silkroad Ensemble, named for the trade route through Asia to Europe, was founded by Ma in 1998 to bring together diverse musicians across cultural traditions. The group is a collective of musicians from Central and East Asia and the West who together create new music with traditional roots. The Wall Street Journal calls the group “a joyous revelation... an emblem of what people can do in these fractious times when they live in concert with one another.”

Ma, who began his study of the cello at age 4, trained at the Julliard School, and earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Harvard, has produced more than 100 albums spanning the Western classical tradition—and earned 19 Grammy awards and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among many other honors.

His dedication to partnering with communities and institutions has brought art and music to people around the world. Among other roles, he is the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant; artistic advisor at large to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; artistic director of the annual Youth Music Culture Guangdong festival; UN Messenger of Peace; and the first artist ever appointed to the World Economic Forum’s board of trustees.

Other Montgomery Fellows in residence this spring include French novelist Édouard Louis and novelist and sociologist Didier Eribon.

From April 5 through May 3, Louis returns to Hanover as a Montgomery Fellow. Louis is the author of En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule, published last spring in the United States as The End of Eddy. The semi-autobiographical novel, which won the Pierre Guénin Prize, is a coming-of-age story about a gay boy growing up in a turbulent working-class community in northern France. The book was an immediate bestseller in France, where it was regarded as an essential examination of the cultural forces behind rising populist, anti-establishment, and anti-immigrant movements.

Louis has followed up his debut with a second autobiographical novel, Histoire de la violence (History of Violence), about a sexual assault he survived in 2012. That book will be published in the United States in June.

Overlapping with Louis’ residency, Didier Eribon, a writer and professor of sociology at the Université de Picardie Jules Verne in Amiens, France, will be in residence from April 16 to May 13. Like The End of Eddy, Eribon’s bestselling 2009 novel Returning to Reims describes a young gay man’s estrangement from the homophobic, working-class community where he grew up.

The Montgomery Fellows Program

For four decades, the Montgomery endowment, created by a gift from Kenneth ’25 and Harle Montgomery, has brought distinguished guests to campus to stay in the Montgomery House on Rope Ferry Road and live, work, teach, and engage with the Dartmouth community.

Earlier this year Montgomery Fellows included, in the winter, cartoonist and graphic artist Larry Gonick, known for his popular science and social science Cartoon Guide and Cartoon History series, including The Cartoon History of the United States and The Cartoon History of the Universe; and, in the fall, actress and performing artist Rhodessa Jones, the co-artistic director of the San Francisco-based theater company Cultural Odyssey and founding director of the Medea Project, which brings performance workshops to incarcerated women and women living with HIV.

Hannah Silverstein can be reached at hannah.silverstein@dartmouth.edu.