Donald Trump has been promoting disharmony at the US-Mexico border. Over the weekend, Yo-Yo Ma tried to do the opposite by playing excerpts of the Bach cello suites on both sides of the Rio Grande.
His concerts were part of a project to spread understanding and civility throughout the world.
“A country is not a hotel, and it’s not full,” Ma said, referring to Trump’s comments earlier this month that the US can’t take any more asylum seekers. “In culture we build bridges, not walls.”
Trump’s fixation with the border has been used by a variety of artists—and even Pope Francis (paywall)—to promote cross-cultural connections. They range from Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón, who earlier this year photographed Yalitza Aparicio, star of his Oscar-winning film Roma at the barrier between Tijuana and San Diego, to French artist JR, who in 2017 installed a giant toddler peering over the fence that separates Tecate, Mexico, from Tecate, California.
Locals savored the visit from Ma, who even attempted to address them in Spanish.
Texas was Ma’s 10th stop in a tour that will touch on every continent. He’s already played in Mexico City, Lepizig, Germany, and Youngstown, Ohio. “Music has a way of getting to people’s intellect, to people’s intuition and joins them together in a convening way. It can start conversations,” he said during his trip to Mexico.
The final concert will be in Christchurch, New Zealand, where a gunman killed 50 people at two mosques earlier this year.