Yo-Yo Ma at the Forefront of Social Impact

“Give together, so we can get it together, in order for us to live together,” iconic musician and social entrepreneur Yo-Yo Ma recommended at the Annual Forefront Luncheon June 6 during his interview with Donald A. Cooke, senior vice president for philanthropy of the McCormick Foundation and Forefront Award Honoree.

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Welcome Yo-Yo Ma to our annual luncheon! #myforefront

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This is a pretty darn good description of why impact philanthropy and virtuous-circle-building are so important.

Our community yearns to support the philanthropic activities that create the greatest good and help the most people live together well. Organizations like Forefront and Make It Better provide structure to facilitate this. In difficult economies — like Chicago — our work is more important than ever.

Ma explains, “Communities need safety and trust, in order to foster curiosity, imagination and the ability to use empathy and critical thinking to solve problems.” Of course, learning to play a musical instrument and perform in ensembles powerfully utilizes and builds these skills too.

Ma demonstrated his pay-it-forward, give-together-to-grow-together philosophy by jumping on stage and playing with students from The Peoples Music School (TPMS), Chicago’s only entirely free after-school music instruction and a beneficiary of Forefront’s impact philanthropy efforts.

“We were delighted to host almost 800 of our colleagues from the social impact sector at Forefront’s Annual Luncheon,” Forefront President & CEO Eric Weinheimer says. “This luncheon was especially meaningful as we honored our Chairman Don Cooke and featured the brilliance and artistry of Yo-Yo Ma. It was the perfect way to take a break from our important missions, find inspiration, insight, and beauty, and re-energize. It was an event to remember.”

Yo-Yo Ma with students from The People's Music School, with whom he performed at Forefront and TPMS Exec Director Jennifer Matsuzawa.

Yo-Yo Ma with students from The People’s Music School, with whom he performed with at Forefront and TPMS Executive Director Jennifer Matsuzawa.

Ma’s parting gift was this solo performance of two songs he particularly relates to Chicago, a city he loves. Every listener in the sell-out crowd in the Chicago Hyatt Regency Ballroom where the luncheon was held felt the love and connection Ma offered with this music. I hope you do too.

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