Folks who got the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear Yo-Yo Ma play Bach’s Six Suites for Solo Cello live in concert Sunday night at the Blossom Music Festival can commemorate the experience Friday, when he releases his third and final recording of the works, Six Evolutions, on Sony Classical.

Northeast Ohio audiences who attended the concert, a highlight of the festival’s 50th anniversary season at the summer home of the Cleveland Orchestra, took in Ma’s highly intimate solo recital as he embarks on a two-year journey playing all six of Bach’s cello suites across six continents. In his Bach Project, he will play each of 36 concerts in one sitting, with upcoming cities including Leipzig, Germany; Berkeley, Calif.; Washington and Montreal.

Ma played for nearly 2½ hours with no intermission Sunday, offering a bit of highly personable patter between suites. Halfway through the concert, he thanked the crowd for being a great audience and quipped that his own family would have already fallen asleep listening.

The cellist, who began to learn the Prelude to Suite No. 1 measure by measure at age 4 under the tutelage of his father, recorded the full suites first when he was in his 20s. He recorded them a second time when he was in his early 40s.

In a news release, Ma called Bach’s Cello Suites his “constant musical companions” over nearly six decades. “They have given me sustenance, comfort and joy during times of stress, celebration and loss.”

Ma is sharing this music again, he wrote in the Blossom program, “with the hope that it might spark a conversation about how culture can be a source of the solutions we need.”

At the concert, he quoted his musical hero, Pablo Casals, saying, “I am a human being first, a musician second, and a cellist third.”

On Sunday night, Ma — born in 1955 to Chinese parents living in Paris — asked all veterans of the armed services to stand up to be recognized. He also dedicated the fifth and sixth suites to people in Northeast Ohio who are helpers to others. In doing so, he made a parallel to how Bach has been a “helper” to him throughout his life and how music helps us to understand ourselves and each other.

Ma’s Six Evolutions – Bach: Cello Suites recording can be ordered at: https://bit.ly/2Pb2HxI. For more, see www.yo-yoma.com.

Meet the stars

Kent State’s Blossoming Gala will celebrate the 50-year partnership between the university and the Cleveland Musical Arts Association (parent organization of the Cleveland Orchestra) with a scholarship fundraiser Sept. 22 at the Student Center Ballroom. The three arms of that partnership are Porthouse Theatre, the Kent Blossom Music Festival (a partnership between the school of music and the Cleveland Orchestra) and the Kent Blossom Art Intensives.

The September event will feature some star power as Tony Award winner and KSU alumna Alice Ripley sings Broadway tunes from shows in which she was an original cast member, including Sunset Boulevard, Side Show and The Dead.

Clarinetist David Shifrin, who was a student at the Kent Blossom Festival in 1970, will perform Debussy and Bernstein with KSU Steinway artist Donna Lee and also will perform the Weber Quintet with the School of Music’s Efferus String Quartet. Finally, American painter Philip Pearlstein, best known for Modernist Realism nudes, will speak about his time teaching at Kent Blossom Art in 1969 and his career over the decades.

Tickets start at $125 each. See kent.edu/artscollege/blossoming-gala for reservations.

This weekend

• New Coach House artistic directors Cassandra Capocci and Sergio Iriarte are doing something new at this tiny community theater: mounting a youth production. I Believe in Make Believe opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday and runs through Aug. 26. In this tale about the Princess Who Never Laughed, fairy tale characters compete to win her hand in marriage or 10,000 bags of gold.

Cast members are ages 5 to 22. Cost is $20 for adults or $10 for children. See showclix.com/event/i-believe-in-make-believe for tickets. Shows are at 7:30 Friday and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays.

A pre-show picnic with Amanda’s Hot Dogs will be 12:30 to 2 p.m. this Sunday. Prices are $5-$10. Bring a picnic blanket. More info: 330-434-7741.

• Western Reserve Playhouse will open Terms of Endearment, adapted by Dan Gordon from the 1983 Oscar-winning film, at 8 p.m. Friday, running through Sept. 1. This story, about the resilience of a mother-daughter relationship, is also based on the book by Pulitzer Prize winner Larry McMurtry.

Karen Rose will direct a cast led by Kerry Scanlon and Annette Fernandez. Shows run 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Cost is $15-$17. See westernreserve playhouse.org or call 330-620-7314.

Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or kclawson@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her at @KerryClawsonABJ or www.facebook.com/kclawsonabj.