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In the wake of Saturday evening's all-Bach concert at Byblos, cello maestro Yo-Yo Ma took his Bach Project to Beirut Sunday, in the company of local musicians and NGO activists.After a jaunty opening number, the celebrity cellist came down and joined the crowd.The sight of Ma playing from the house's exposed central axis was perhaps the most stirring image of the day. After his own solo, he stepped back and Syrian clarinettist Kinan Azmeh, Lebanese vocalist Oumaima al-Khalil and oud player Ziad al-Ahmadieh took the musical lead. As Azmeh's clarinet keened, the crowd below was hushed into rare silence.The AUB phase of this day finished with a rousing performance by the Tripoli-based Fayha choir, whose emotive performance left some audience members in tears.Musically, however, Ma's performance was the most innovative of the day, even ground-breaking. Crouched over his cello in the dark, smoke-filled room, sweat dripping from his brow, he created an extraordinary atmosphere of tension in the room, pushing the boundaries of improvised dissonance, without tipping over into mere noise.
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