Shared Humanity Through Art

Collaborating with Yo-Yo Ma

Liza Donnelly
4 min readMay 20


Last Wednesday, I was given the privilege to be onstage and draw and improvise with master cellist Yo-Yo Ma. It was an incredible honor.

I drew, he played. I watched him, and the audience; he watched me and my drawing as it appeared onscreen. It was a multiple collaboration. I responded to what he was playing, he responded to what I was drawing. In between the playing and drawing, we discussed many things, moderated by Stage Director Guy Ben-Aharon.

Some drawings were of the audience, some of Yo-Yo, and one was pure imagination in response to his playing.

Two arts interacting.

A beautiful stage. Our conversations were moderated by Director Guy Ben-Aharon, on the right

Me “directing” Yo-Yo

I drew the audience as we began. Everyone takes a marble and puts it in a jar as it is passed around. Even Yo-Yo and I did the same.

Yo-Yo turned to face me and played one of my favorite songs, the Bach Cello Suite №1 . He played directly to me as I drew him.



Liza Donnelly

Visual journalist/writer for New Yorker, New York Times, WaPo, CNN. TED, SXSW speaker. Looking to change world w humor. newsletter:https://lizadonnelly.substack