Stories » The Music of Strangers is a soulful doc on Yo-Yo Ma and his world-music band / Philly.com

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The Music of Strangers is a soulful doc on Yo-Yo Ma and his world-music band / Philly.com

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Typical of so much video associated with the beloved, charismatic cellist Yo-Yo Ma, The Music of Strangers is full of humanitarian philosophy and picturesque shots of artist and cello in exotic locales. But preemptive skepticism is best placed on hold. Morgan Neville's high-budget HBO documentary about Ma and the musicians in his cross-cultural Silk Road Ensemble captures all manner of real-life moments - especially as the initial kumbaya purpose behind the group's formation in 2000 becomes complicated and heightened with the geopolitics of our time.

Backing up for a sec, the documentary spells out how Ma, now 60 and raised in America by Chinese parents, came so early and easily to classical music success that much of the rest of his career has been about answering the "Now what?" question. Ma also admits that the touring life was such that leaving home made him physically ill - his son Nicholas says he once thought his dad worked at Boston's Logan Airport - and left him looking for greater social purpose amid the rigors of fame.

READ THE FULL Philadelphia Enquirer REVIEW