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updated: 10/17/2012 6:02 PM

Yo-Yo Ma to continue work at Chicago Symphony

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Associated Press

Famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma will continue his role as a creative consultant with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra through June 2015, the orchestra announced Wednesday.

Ma was appointed to the newly created position in January 2010 and has spent much of his time in Chicago working with the symphony's educational programs. CSO music director Riccardo Muti said Ma's continued involvement will support his focus on encouraging a new generation of music and music lovers.

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"Yo-Yo Ma is a tremendous partner in this shared effort to serve not only as citizens of the world but also as advocates and ambassadors in a manner that knows no boundaries," Muti said in a statement.

Ma described his role as "a kind of ambassadorship for our city, for our country, for musical values which are in fact human values."

Earlier this week, he attended an event at Perez Elementary School in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood with famed soprano Renee Fleming, who holds a similar position with the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

"The idea of what we're trying to do is an endless process, incredibly aspirational but very much down-in-the-trenches work that needs nurturing so we have a better society," Ma said.

Ma is a major supporter of Citizen Musician, an initiative that launched in Chicago in 2011 with Ma performing and speaking to students in public schools. It has since expanded internationally. CSO musicians also have participated in the program, performing at New York city schools, a Russian orphanage and a children's rehabilitation center in Mexico.

Ma also has provided guidance on programs like "Once Upon a Symphony," a series of music and storytelling programs for children between the ages of 2 and 6.

Ma, one of the best-known classical musicians, has played cello since he was 4. At age 7, he played for presidents Kennedy and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Now at 57, he is hailed as a musical ambassador to the world who has spanned styles from bluegrass to sounds from the Silk Road with an ensemble he founded.

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