In a special free event, Yo-Yo Ma will perform the complete Bach Cello Suites in a season-capping CSO Special Concert June 20 at Millennium Park. The performance, which the CSO announced Jan. 10, is part of “The Bach Project,” in which Ma is performing 36 concerts of the composer’s complete cello suites in distinctive venues worldwide through 2020.

“The Bach Project” is motivated not only by Ma’s six-decade relationship with the music, but also by the works’ ability to speak to our shared humanity at a time when civic conversation is often divided. “Bach’s cello suites have been my constant musical companions,” said Ma, the CSO’s Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant, who released his third recording of the works, “Six Evolutions,” in August. “For almost six decades, they have given me sustenance, comfort, and joy during times of stress, celebration and loss. What power does this music possess that even today, after 300 years, it continues to help us navigate through troubled times?”

For Ma, Bach’s music serves as an example of how culture connects us and can help us to imagine and build a better future. He believes culture includes not just the arts, but anything helps humankind understand the environment and one another. “I believe that culture — the way we express ourselves and each other — is an essential part of building a strong society,” Ma said. “The Bach Project” explores and celebrates all the ways that culture makes us stronger as individuals, as communities, as a society and as a planet.

Ma’s performance June 20 will follow appearances at other major venues, including Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and St. Nicholas Church in Leipzig, Germany, among others.

The concert is free and open to the public. Free seating on the Great Lawn and in the Pritzker Pavilion will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Beginning Jan. 21, a limited number of reserved seats will be available for CSO supporters, with a donation. For more information on how to support CSO and obtain reserved seats, call Patron Services at (800) 223‑7114 or (312) 294‑3000 or visit

Presented in partnership with the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the concert is sponsored by Judson and Joyce Green, with additional support provided by Dean and Rosemarie Buntrock, Sylvia Neil and Dan Fischel, and Helen and Sam Zell.

TOP: Yo-Yo Ma in the cover image of “Six Evolutions,” released in August as part of his Bach Project.