Offers Inspiration to Connect with Nature, Culture in Emerging from Pandemic


Can you imagine finishing your hike and as you round the corner from the Jordan Pond Trail to the Jordan Pond House being serenaded by a world-renowned cellist? Or, coming across an impromptu concert where that same famous cellist is accompanied by Wabanaki musicians and the sounds of the sea and the wind?

That’s exactly what some very fortunate Acadia National Park visitors experienced June 17 when Grammy award- winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma surprised visitors with two pop-up concerts—one on the Jordan Pond House Lawn and the other at Otter Point.

Yo-Yo Ma returned to Acadia on June 18th to join Wabanaki leaders and musicians for a sunrise concert at Schoodic Point. This private event coincided with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland’s visit and was described as “magical” by many in attendance.

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma gives the first of two surprise performances at the Jordan Pond House. Yo Yo Ma’s second surprise performance was at Otter Point. (Lily LaRegina/Friends of Acadia)

“Watching Yo-Yo Ma perform with Wabanaki musicians at sunrise was a deeply personal highlight for me,” said Kevin Schneider, Acadia National Park Superintendent. “Sunrise represents the optimism of a new day and this event certainly felt that way as we emerge from this terrible pandemic. It was an honor to have Maine’s tribal leaders, Secretary Haaland, Governor Mills, and the entire Congressional delegation converge on the park at the same time,” he added.

Parks have always been natural places of inspiration. This has never been more prevalent than during the pandemic where Acadia—and parks across the country—provided respite for millions. “Hosting a creative spirit and bright light such as Yo-Yo Ma, paired with indigenous leaders and musicians, gives us optimism for the future,” said Friends of Acadia President and CEO David MacDonald.

“My takeaway from his visit and the collaboration with tribal performers was that we all need to come together to protect a place that is so beloved and so fragile in the face of threats like climate change and stresses from increasing visitation,” David said. “Some people are inspired by reading about that; some are inspired by music; and others by action. But no matter our perspective, we all can learn so much from nature and culture.”

Thank you to Yo-Yo Ma and those collaborating with him, and kudos to the National Park Service for helping to make this happen at Acadia, despite all of the other pressures of their jobs with the recent storm damage and very high visitation in the park.

LORI SCHAEFER is Friends of Acadia’s Communications Director.