Director: Morgan Neville
Morgan Neville’s work on 20 Feet From Stardom is proof he’s good at the big story around music – and here we have a different kind of “big story” – where 20 Feet was about the forgotten people, the people working in behind, as part of the performance – The Music of Strangers is about the forgotten influences; the key motivators that drive a star performer. In this case Yo-Yo Ma. Yes, he’s a legend, even people that don’t ordinarily listen to his music know his name and his worth – then there are the fans that come to him through his collaborations as part of/with The Silk Road Ensemble. But what is it about that music and that ensemble that works?
Here through vignettes of performance – colourful and beautifully captured – and through interviews with Yo-Ya Ma and all he holds near and dear we get a portrait of the man and his motivations and his musical drives.
The performances are stunning and there’s so much here in terms of looking at music transcending meaning or translation; language barriers are broken down, cultural barriers are understood, respected and – if necessary – bypassed. It’s all here – if you’re looking for an inspirational tale around how a musical genius can reinvent themselves in order to find meaning in place of just technique then this film is for you; if you’re after a story around the power of music and its own transcendent capabilities – its powers – then this is for you.
It’s a must-watch, a must-have even for fans of music; for people enamoured with culture, with the arts, with music – people in search of an understanding of the soul that drives in and of these pursuits.