Cellist Yo-Yo Ma performs the Prelude from Bach’s Suite for Solo Cello no.2 in D minor amid the melting permafrost in Fairbanks, Alaska. Ma was brought to the Lower Tanana Dene lands by Princess Daazhraii Johnson (Neet’saii Gwich’in), a Native Alaskan writer, director, producer and actor who lives in the area.

Acknowledging the connection between humans and nature, Johnson writes: ’Our relationship to our birch relatives, our salmon relatives, and all the beings of Alaska are sacred. Our traditional stories tell us that at one point we all spoke the same language…we still do.

’If we find the time to truly listen, we might recognise ourselves in the melting permafrost or the fallen birch, but we might also recognise ourselves in the songs of the birds or the freshness of the Arctic breeze. There is still hope when we experience life. We should all fall in love with the places we live and let this love drive our determination to protect the waters, the salmon, the caribou, and all our plant relatives so that future generations may also experience such joy and sustenance.’

The video is by Austin Mann and Taylor McKay, with audio by Christopher Moretti and Jesse Lewis.

2023 marked the 40th anniversary of Ma’s first recording of Bach’s Solo Cello Suites, which was commemorated with a three-disc LP release of the works. He went on to record the suites twice more in 1997 and 2018.

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