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Famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma performs at Paterson Field House on Saturday after getting his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the BCC clinic.
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Ma's audience is people waiting the 15-20 minutes of observation after getting the vaccine.

Yo-Yo Ma's Performance at BCC Vax Clinic Became International News

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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Today at the #MyBCC vaccine clinic, folks waiting in the observation area were graced by the musical talents of amazing cellist Yo-Yo Ma! 😍😍😍

Posted by Berkshire Community College on Saturday, March 13, 2021

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Community College made international headlines with a video of 18-time Grammy Award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma performing at the Paterson Field House vaccination clinic on Saturday.

After receiving his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, Ma spent the required 15-minute waiting period performing a rendition of "Ave Maria" and the Prelude to Bach's Cello Suite No 1.

BCC's Associate Director of Marketing and Communications Jonah Sykes captured the moment and it has since reached news publications nationally and internationally. It has been featured on ABC's "Good Morning America," "The Drew Barrymore Show," PBS, ABC, CNN, and The Washington Post among many others.

Sykes described Ma's performance as "transcendental."

"This is really a sense of giving back to your community," He said. "And I think that's what Yo-Yo Ma was personifying was his performance."

On Tuesday, the Facebook post had reached more than 556,000 people and Sykes expects that number to keep growing, saying the college's analytics are "out of control" from the post's attention.

Ma, being a part-time resident of the Berkshires, thanked essential and frontline workers for their work during the pandemic by performing nine pop-up concerts with pianist Emanuel Ax throughout Lee and Pittsfield in the fall.

"A year ago [Ma] was doing his 'Songs of Comfort,' and he also did his performances for the first responders in the Berkshires," Sykes said. "And it just felt like he's coming back to perform again to help us all ease through and see the light at the end of the tunnel, so people were crying,"

Nobody knew the Tanglewood legend was going to perform, he explained, adding that Saturday's second dose clinic vaccinated about 1,300 people.

Sykes reported seeing a guest at the clinic with a large black case and assumed it was for accessibility, as people cannot be recognized easily with masks on. He was playing music from an Alexa device to keep the nurses entertained and was asked by clinic manager Richard Hall to turn it off after Ma expressed that he would like to perform.

Sykes said he turned the music off and ran over the observation area to capture the moment that brought tears to the eyes of witnesses.

"He just unpacked his case he grabbed the chair put along the side of the wall, and started playing," he said. "As soon as he started playing, people all kind of moved closer, every seat is 6 feet apart, and there's hundreds of them, and they all got closer to everyone with their phones out, some people donated money into his case."

The Berkshires are ranked one of the highest counties for vaccination in the state and Sykes reported that the BCC has been recognized for being a quick, smooth, and easy clinic.

"We've got this down to like a science and everyone is really excited to get through and be done, especially on a second dose, because then you know you're actually done you don't have to come back," he said.

"Every age group that's come through so far, they're just smiling and happy and excited to be out of the house, be overwhelmed by the process and seeing themselves getting through this pandemic because they've been vaccinated. And this was like the personification of that feeling of joy and release."

Tags: COVID-19,   musicians,   

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