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Published: 2007/07/30
by Brian Ferdman

Music From The Inside Out

Docurama NVG-9869

Why do we like music? What does music do for us? Why do musicians play music? These are all broad-reaching, nearly impossible-to-answer questions, but the documentary Music From The Inside Out attempts to uncover those elusive answers.

For several months, filmmakers follow the 105 musicians of the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra. As the orchestra embarks on a global tour, we are able to observe how their music positively affects the people who hear it. More interestingly, we are able to see how the music of different lands affects the musicians of the orchestra. When the orchestra members conclude their performance and race outside a Polish concert hall in order to catch a street musician performing Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" on the accordion, the effect is stunning. Here are handsomely paid, professional musicians standing in awe of the talents of a man who relies upon pocket change for survival. Despite the vast financial gulf that stands between them, music is the great leveler.

We also are able to observe the musicians at home, and we learn about what has driven them to choose their careers. These are interesting stories, mostly discussing the impact of a strong parental influence. However, the tale of the one-time prize-winning soloist who fell out of favor and was forced to step back from the limelight and into relative obscurity in the violin section offers an interesting lesson on the redemptive powers of music. In addition, we learn that the individual musicians have unique musical lives outside of the orchestra, as evidenced by the trombone player who high-tails it from the orchestra's performance to make a gig with a salsa band and the violinist who lives for tearing up Bill Monroe tunes in a bluegrass jam at his local Irish pub.

This film also sheds some light on the difficulties of performing with 104 other people. If people think navigating the personality quirks of a band of five is tough, try multiplying that by twenty. Every single musician experiences little things throughout their daily life that influence their playing. Impressively, many of the instrumentalists are acutely aware of the nuances of what each person is doing on stage, and they can easily detect when the tympani player is having a good or bad day.

Music From The Inside Out asks some big questions, and truthfully, many of these questions never get answered. However, answers are not the point of this film. In asking the questions of why music has such a profound impact in our lives, we learn much about ourselves and those who have given their lives to this art. We may never find the complete answers we desire, but as long as we live the questions, we’ll experience a great journey that is well worth the ride.

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