Words sometimes fail, but energy and enthusiasm triumph in “Music From the Inside Out,” a docu that quizzes members of the Philadelphia Orchestra about their relationship to music. With coin supplied by the Corp. for Public Broadcasting, film is perfectly pitched for pubcasters worldwide and should harmoniously slot into docu and music fests.
Trying to encapsulate in words the essence of music is a task that would seem destined to fall flat. But the insights of the collected intelligence of the famous 106-year-old orchestra’s players are vibrant and stimulating.
Pic is structured in three parts (“Finding a Voice,” “Between the Notes,” “The Sum of the Parts”), but the divisions are largely superfluous, as themes overlap. The talking heads chosen are sufficiently articulate to make such structural inconsistencies irrelevant.
With a constant underscore of music, from Schubert to Stravinsky, the docu is a soothing sit, but like the orchestra’s performers it doesn’t confine itself to classical works. Trombonist Nitzan Haroz spends his off-hours playing in Latin-flavored clubs, while violinist Zachary DePue finds release in the rhythms of Bluegrass. French hornist Adam Unsworth is sustained by running marathons, while viola-playing “cinesthesiac” Judy Geist (whose condition, enabling her to see colors in sounds, could sustain a whole docu in itself) paints landscapes.
Some talent is interviewed one-on-one, but most quotes appear to be sourced from what looks like a group therapy session to unlock the secrets of professional musical experience. Some speak of the isolation as music comes from within; others enthuse about the communal experience of performing with an orchestra.
PBS director Daniel Anker (“Scottsboro: An American Tragedy,” “Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust”) deals with his unwieldy subject admirably, and astute suturing of disparate interviews maintains momentum.
Pic has a pro DV look and transfer to 35mm is good. Sound is impeccable.