The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma & the Silk Road Ensemble | Salt Lake City Weekly

The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma & the Silk Road Ensemble

Rated PG-13 96 minutes 2016

★★★★★ ★★★★★
Director Morgan Neville (Twenty Feet from Stardom) takes on a task for his latest music documentary similar to the one faced by celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma: blending multiple perspectives into something that might ultimately be harmonious. He’s mostly successful in this profile of the musical project formed by Ma, with participants bringing the instruments and traditions of their various cultural backgrounds. Those artists—including Syrian born clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, Galician bagpiper Cristina Pato, Iranian kamancheh player Kayhan Kalhor and Chinese pipa player Wu Man—have individually fascinating stories, and Neville juggles them capably while exploring both their commitment to their cultural heritages and the melting-pot work of the Silk Road Ensemble. There’s just a ton of stuff going on here, including heady questions like the extent to which art matters in places faced with political violence or repression. The musical interludes themselves are reason enough to watch Neville’s lovely travelogue, even when the profiles occasionally result in not being able to hear these many components cohere into a symphony.

Film Credits

Director: Morgan Neville

Producer: Caitrin Rogers, Laura Freid, Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann and Julie Goldman

Cast: Yo-Yo Ma

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