Yo-Yo Ma was the cello's foremost contemporary proponent; while primarily a classical performer, he also made a number of highly successful crossover recordings. Born October 7, 1955 to Chinese parents living in Paris, he began playing the cello at the age of four, later studying with Janos Scholz; in 1962, he also became the pupil of Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School, and was the recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize in 1978. A Harvard graduate, Ma made his initial impact performing J.S. Bach's Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, which he also recorded early on in his career; years later, he returned to Bach's work alongside artists from a variety of disciplines, reinterpreting each suite for a series of films, dubbed Inspired by Bach (made in conjunction with the likes of Canadian filmmakers Atom Egoyan and Francois Giraud along with choreographer Mark Morris). In addition to the standard concerto repertoire, Ma also recorded albums such as Hush (with vocalist Bobby McFerrin) and 1996's Appalachia Waltz, an album of original Nashville music featuring country fiddler Mark O'Connor and bassist Edgar Meyer. He also performed the music of Astor Piazzolla for the soundtrack of the Sally Potter film The Tango Lesson, and explored native Chinese music as well as the music of the Kalahari bush people of Africa.