Stories » 'The Music of Strangers' shows how musicmaking can be salvation / The Christian Science Monitor

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'The Music of Strangers' shows how musicmaking can be salvation / The Christian Science Monitor

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Morgan Neville's documentary "The Music of Strangers" is about the multicultural Silk Road Ensemble assembled in 2000 by the celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma. But this is no mere concert film. As is usually the case with Neville's work, most notably in his Oscar-winning "20 Feet From Stardom," the music is in many ways the pretext for an examination of the musicians' lives. We wouldn't care so much about those lives if we didn't also care about the music. In "The Music of Strangers," the sounds these gifted artists make are the truest expressions of themselves. 

Ma is the film's centerpiece, but he shares the spotlight with a dazzling array of musicians, many with politically fraught histories. The virtuosos from the 20-member ensemble that Neville focuses on come from all over the globe, including Spain, Iran, China, and Syria. Ma's goal was to divine a kind of universal musical language after a career that began as a child prodigy. (We see an amazing clip of him at age 7, with a cello almost as big as he is, standing resolutely on stage with Leonard Bernstein.) 

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