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‘The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble’ Documentary to Debut at TIFF on September 13, 2015

August 25, 2015, Boston, MA—The new feature-length documentary The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) next month. Renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, founder and artistic director of Silkroad (The Silk Road Project), will attend the world-premiere screening on Sunday, September 13, 2015, at 2:45 p.m. and take part, with Silk Road Ensemble musicians, in a Q&A. (Additional screenings, page 2.) Mr. Ma and the celebrated international ensemble will remain in Toronto for the week for a debut concert at historic Massey Hall on Tuesday, September, 15, at 8:00 p.m., and a residency at the Aga Khan Museum.

The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, the latest film from director Morgan Neville and producer Caitrin Rogers, creators of the Oscar®-winning documentary 20 Feet from Stardom and the critically acclaimed Best of Enemies, follows performers drawn from the ensemble’s more than 50 instrumentalists, vocalists, composers, arrangers, visual artists, and storytellers as they gather in locations across the world, exploring the ways that art can both preserve traditions and shape cultural evolution. The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble is directed by Neville and produced by Neville and Rogers of Tremolo Productions, in association with Participant Media and with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ford Foundation JustFilms. Executive producers include Participant Media’s Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann and The Silk Road Project’s Laura Freid. The Silk Road Project’s Cristin Canterbury Bagnall served as a co-executive producer.

 “My Silk Road Ensemble colleagues share my wonder at the creativity that exists where cultures intersect,” Yo-Yo Ma said. “The joy we have when encountering and learning from other perspectives is one reason we are so pleased to be back in Toronto, a vibrant city that embraces cultural diversity. It was an honor for us to work with Morgan Neville on his documentary, which captures our experience of cross- cultural collaboration and celebrates what we share rather than what divides us. I am very grateful for the opportunity to bring the Ensemble to Toronto for this premiere, to perform for the first time in Massey Hall, to return to the Aga Khan Museum, and to once again be guests in this city’s remarkable arts community.”

Blending performance footage, personal interviews, and archival film, the film focuses on the journeys of a small group of Silk Road Ensemble members from across the globe to create an intensely personal chronicle of passion, talent, and sacrifice. Through these moving individual stories, the filmmakers paint a vivid portrait of a bold musical experiment and a global search for the ties that bind.

“We couldn’t be happier that this documentary is receiving its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival,” Laura Freid said. “The musicians’ life stories give us powerful and poignant models for the ways that music, art, and culture can help us to develop the empathy and imagination to transcend our own experience, connect with the unfamiliar, and create positive change. At Silkroad, we aspire to be a catalyst for cultural citizenship. We hope that the inspiration individuals take from the film will give depth to the experience of seeing the Silk Road Ensemble live, and we are so glad to be able to perform at Massey Hall within the same week.”

Public screenings of The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble:

  • Sunday, September 13, 2015 – 2:45 p.m. (Visa Screening Room – Elgin)
  • Tuesday, September 15, 2015 – 8:45 a.m. (TIFF Bell Lightbox – Cinema 3)
  • Friday, September 18, 2015 – 5:00 p.m. (Isabel Bader Theatre)

Individual tickets go on sale September 6, 2015, and Patrons Circle pre-sale begins on August 27, 2015. Purchase tickets through TIFF.

Visit Massey Hall or call 416-872-4255 for tickets and information about the Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma concert on September 15, 2015.

Silkroad acknowledges Hyosung Corporation, The National Endowment for the Humanities, Pershing Square Foundation, the Ford Foundation JustFilms, The Rosenthal Family Foundation, Union Square Fund, and its other institutional partners for their generous support of activities that promote innovation, education, and cross-cultural understanding through the arts.


 The Silk Road Ensemble

Since 2000, the Silk Road Ensemble has been redefining classical music for 21st-century audiences. Incorporating performers and composers from more than 20 countries, the ensemble draws on the rich traditions that make up our shared cultural heritage. Called “vibrant and virtuosic” by the Wall Street Journal, “one of the 21st  century’s great ensembles” by the Vancouver Sun, and a “roving musical laboratory without walls” by the Boston Globe, the ensemble has been embraced by audiences and critics throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. The group has recorded six albums, including A Playlist Without Borders with Live From Tanglewood DVD, and a new album forthcoming in 2016.


Yo-Yo Ma

The many-faceted career of cellist Yo-Yo Ma is testament to his continual search for new ways to communicate with audiences and to his personal desire for artistic growth and renewal. Mr. Ma maintains a balance between his engagements as soloist with orchestras worldwide and his recital and chamber music activities. In addition to founding and serving as artistic director of the Silk Road Project, Mr. Ma also is also the Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Negaunee Music Institute. His work focuses on the transformative power music can have in individuals’ lives, and on increasing the number and variety of opportunities audiences have to experience music in their communities.



Eager to forge connections across cultures, disciplines, and generations, cellist Yo-Yo Ma founded the nonprofit organization Silkroad in 1998. Through performance and the creation of new music, cultural partnerships, education programs, and cross-disciplinary collaborations, Silkroad works at the edge where education, business, and the arts come together to transform the world. 


About Participant Media

Participant Media is a leading media company dedicated to entertainment that inspires and compels social impact. Founded in 2004 by Jeff Skoll, Participant combines the power of a good story well told with opportunities for viewers to get involved. Participant’s more than 60 films include Lincoln, Contagion, The Help, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Food, Inc., Waiting For ‘Superman,’ CITIZENFOUR and An Inconvenient Truth. Participant has also launched more than a dozen original series, including “Please Like Me,” “Hit Record On TV with Joseph Gordon-Levitt,” and “Fortitude,” for its television network, Pivot. Participant’s digital hub, TakePart, serves millions of socially conscious consumers each month with daily articles, videos and opportunities to take action.  


Additional Media Resources

For high-resolution photographs and Silkroad materials, visit silkroadproject.org/press-room.

For more information on the Silk Road Ensemble, visit silkroadproject.org/ensemble or Opus 3 Artists at opus3artists.com.


­Press Contact:

Heidi Koelz