One of three $1 million prizes will go to Ma; another will be split between four journalists; and a third will be will split by two medical researchers. The prizes will be presented at ceremony at Tel Aviv University on May 21.
The Dan David Foundation, created by Israeli inventor and businessman Dan David, presents three awards annually for achievements relating to the past, present, and future. Ma was honored in the "past" category for his work with the Silk Road Project, which he founded and continues to direct.
"Yo-Yo Ma is awarded the 2006 Dan David Prize for venturing beyond the traditional realms of musicianship, transforming himself, through his intellect as well as his artistry, into an educator and cultural explorer," a statement from the foundation read. "In particular, through the Silk Road Project, which he founded in 1998, he has opened up the study of the ebb and flow of ideas and traditions among different cultures along the Silk Road."
Journalists Magdi Allam of Italy, M‹nica Gonzšlez of Chile, Adam Michnik of Poland, and Goenawan Mohamad of Indonesia won in the "present" category for "exceptional reporting and commitment to press freedom." Cancer researchers John Mendelssohn and Joseph Schlessinger won the "future" prize for the recent breakthroughs in their research.
The winners were selected by review committees chaired by Nicholas Lemann, the dean of the Columbia School of Journalism; Vartan Gregorian, the president of the Carnegie Corporation; and chemist Aaron Ciechanover.
Next year, the David Foundation said, the "past" prize will honor the study of history, the "present" prize will recognize contemporary music, and the "future" prize will recognize achievements in the "quest for energy."