Yo-Yo Ma is going to love Winona too…

You know I’ve been dying to write about this…

Yo-Yo Ma, as in the undisputed best cellist in the world, is about to add Winona, Minnesota to his travel map. It’s pretty incredible.

The Minnesota Beethoven Festival took root here a handful of years ago and has been building momentum each summer with musicians from around the world. From just about the minute the summer concert series was introduced it became an instant sold-out favorite – it was hard to imagine that it could get better. I mean we had world-famous pianists, quartets and symphonies filling our summer air with the sweet sound of classical music and making this place feel a little bit more like an arts wonderland.

I have to give all the credit for this to Hugh Miller, an amazing guy who loves the arts enough to want to share them with this community. The Minnesota Beethoven Festival exists solely out of this fact alone, and frankly we can never do enough to thank him. The fact is that he’s kind of a quiet and unassuming guy, but for this deed Hugh Miller is totally a superhero in my book. He should wear a cape. I’m going to bring that up next time I see him. Okay, you’re right, I probably won’t.

So just when it seemed it couldn’t get better organizers said three magic words – Yo-Yo Ma. Although I guess that might actually be two words, one with two syllables, but that would require a conversation with the man himself and I’m thinking he might be a little too busy for that phone call…

But anyway – as soon as “Ma” left their lips the presale tickets were gone and a bunch of people were left crying in their coffee that they botched a chance to see something incredible in Winona. Like me. I probably bawled for two days. Okay maybe not two full days, but I was pretty sick about it. But thankfully organizers were thinking of us procrastinators and held onto a few tickets, tickets we are going to get a crack at on May 3.

Here’s the scoop: This block of tickets will be available online and at the box office on May 3. Organizers say phone messages for tickets will be returned in the order received, but your best bet may be to show up in person to the box office or pick some up online. I suggest at midnight you are sitting at your keyboard with your credit card information in your hand waiting to hit the send key. Okay – I don’t know if ticket sales will start at midnight – they actually might not go on sale until the box office opens that morning I suppose, but I’m not taking the chance.

You will most likely never have an opportunity again to see Yo-Yo Ma for $36 bucks, not to mention right here in Winona. The concert is June 27 in the Somsen Auditorium on the Winona State campus, by the way. Http://www.mnbeethovenfestival.com

And I have to say, while I am so excited to see Yo-Yo Ma here in town, I’m almost as excited for Yo-Yo Ma to see Winona.

I mean how many venues will he play at this year in charming river towns? I can just picture someone driving him here from the airport and him catching his breath at the sight of the Mississippi River and our beautiful town sprawled out next to it. Or maybe he will fly into Max Conrad Field and see from above the meandering backwaters with an occasional kayak that looks like a bright bullet, or a big barge with its colorful mosaic of containers.

Maybe he’ll get to wander for a minute down Third Street and marvel at our historic buildings, stopping for a macchiato at Blooming Grounds or picking up some postcards at the Historical Society gift shop. For a man who jets from one major metropolitan area to another making his music, I think he will look around this place and find it to be beautiful, and at the end of his stay I think Winona will be as much in his heart as he will be in ours.

One of Winona's many young violinists - maybe the next Yo-Yo Ma?

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