Stories » Berlin Film Festival: The Music of Strangers - Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble / The London Economic

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Berlin Film Festival: The Music of Strangers - Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble / The London Economic

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After meeting world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma and succumbing to his charm, documentary filmmaker Morgan Neville set out to document his ensemble of musicians from around the world, playing traditional instruments of their home countries, and morphing all these different traditions together to make something entirely new. Yo-Yo Ma's charm is hard not to succumb to, and Neville's storytelling is as light-footed, smooth and masterful as in his previous documentaries, like the wonderful 20 Feet from Stardom, focusing on background singers.

This time, he focuses on protagonists from places where traditional music is not appreciated any more, countries who have had a cultural revolution: China, Iran, and Syria. Following these gifted musicians for several years, it is heartbreaking to see their anxiety grow with regards to their homelands. Kayhan Kalhor plays the traditional Persian Kamancheh, he is one of the best players in the world. But he is not allowed to perform in Iran. Kinan Azmeh, Syrian clarinetist, has lost the motivation to compose music, feeling its pointlessness and his own powerlessness in the face of what his compatriots have to go through. The Music of Strangers carries the powerful message the Silk Road Ensemble has been founded upon.

READ THE FULL London Economic ARTICLE