Muti said Ma would work with the orchestra and its education programs from Orchestra Hall itself to community centers and juvenile detention facilities.
"I have had the great pleasure and privilege of working with Maestro Muti on many occasions over the past 25 years," Ma said in a statement. "I am impressed and inspired by his passion, intellect and vitality. Along with his first love, music, Maestro Muti cares deeply about so many important issues of our day -- our planet, our children and those less fortunate."
CSO Association President Deborah F. Rutter said Ma's appointment is a cornerstone of Muti's plans to deepen the orchestra's engagement with the city, support a new generation of musicians and encourage collaboration with young -- and often visionary -- artists.
Ma also will lead chamber music residencies that will involve fellow artists in the development of innovative thematic programming and engage college-age and pre-college-age musicians.
Rutter said Ma will participate in the development and implementation of several new initiatives, projects and music series as part of the CSO's Institute for Learning Access and Training. They will include a concert series for children ages 3-5; intensive workshops for high school and college-age musicians; and in partnership with Muti, programming for incarcerated and at-risk youth.
Ma has performed with the CSO numerous times, and is possibly best known in Chicago for his active participation in the 2006-2007 Silk Road Chicago project, which brought together a number of the city's leading cultural institutions, as well as thousands of children from the Chicago Public Schools. He still serves as artistic director of the international Silk Road Project.
The Naples-born Muti was named the CSO's 10th music director in May 2008, and assumes the post in September 2010 for a five-year contract.
"Yo-Yo Ma is an artist whose vast musical knowledge and embracing spirit brings people together no matter what language they speak or what their financial situation might be," Muti said. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for him not only as a great musician, but as a humanitarian who has traveled the world, making connections through music that enhance and enrich society."