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In 2011, Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile joined forces to create The Goat Rodeo Sessions, a collaborative album exploring a musical fusion of bluegrass and classical music, incorporating elements of blues, celtic music, and Dixieland jazz. The resulting sound has been dubbed "totally American" and "genre proof" by the group.

Meyer had worked with both Ma and Thile before, and in 2008 he suggested that Thile should work with Ma on his collaborative Christmas album Songs of Joy and Peace, and the three expressed an interest in a future collaboration.

The instrumentation features Ma on cello; Duncan on violin, banjo, and mandolin; Meyer on bass, piano, and viol; and Thile on mandolin, guitar, and viol. In addition, Thile provides the vocals for the tracks "Here and Heaven" and "No One But You," along with Aoife O'Donovan. All of the compositions are credited to Meyer, Thile, and Duncan.

The term "goat rodeo" refers to a chaotic situation in which every element must work properly in order for there to be any kind of success, which was considered an apt representation of the unusual and challenging aspects of blending the sounds classical and bluegrass music.

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