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The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma | Silk Road Ensemble / SLANT review

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Here's an interesting irony about Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project that's lightly acknowledged in The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble. The legendary cellist's attempt to create a broad-minded, forward-thinking cultural exchange through music has led some of the members of the ensemble to see themselves as gatekeepers of a past that's increasingly threatened to be lost forever. This is especially so in the case of pipa player Wu Man and the gaita-slaying Cristina Pato. For Wu, upon returning to China after her experiences with Ma's ensemble, she realized how much of her home country's folk music was disappearing, and decided to make it her mission to try to document it all. In Pato's case, seeing a similar erosion of the Galician cultural identity, she founded the Galician Connection, a festival intended as a celebration of the culture. As Winston Churchill famously said, "The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see."

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