“There is no tradition that exist today, that is not the result of really successful invention. But unless a tradition keeps evolving, it naturally becomes smaller and smaller.” – Yo-Yo Ma, 2015
Imagine one of the world’s foremost musicians scouring the planet to bring different musical traditions into a room where they can build and create.
This HBO documentary is about transcendence in culture over political identity. Following not only the famous cellist, we meet musicians who bring unfamiliar traditions and instruments, and learn their thoughts about life, music, and culture. It is full of inspiration and tragedy and pathos and hope, with exhilarating musical performances that expand cultural envelopes with every note.
The film was completed in 2015 for 2016 release. And the authoritarian assault on culture that exploded that year in the United States, not part of the documentary, had larger parallels in China, Syria, Iran, and Spain, where the musicians called home.
We watched it on Amazon Prime, and it’s probably on HBO since it’s their documentary.