Violinist stars in Brokeback man's movie

Violinist stars in Brokeback man's movie


norman lebrecht

February 04, 2011

As my novel The Song of Names goes into pre-production with a violinist hero – role yet to be announced – thrilling news breaks of a bold career move for super soloist Philippe Quint.

Russian born and Juilliard trained, Philippe stars in a real-life story of a Russian musician who comes to New York and joins the roughhouse downtown scene.
Downtown Express is produced by Michael Hausman, the force behind Brokeback Mountain, and is directed by David Grubin. Philippe tours the US this month with the Capetown Philharmonic, playing the concertos by Tchaikovsky and, his signature piece, Korngold.
Press release follows.
photo: Danny Bright

Violinist Philippe Quint

Stars in upcoming independent film Downtown Express

Co-starring singer-songwriter Nellie McKay
Directed by David Grubin
Produced by Michael Hausman

“power, breadth of tone, and passion” – The New York Times on Philippe Quint

Philippe Quint online:
Downtown &

New York, NY– Violinist Philippe Quint stars with singer-songwriter Nellie McKay in Downtown Express, a new film from multiple Peabody and Emmy Award-winning director David Grubin, produced byMichael Hausman (Brokeback MountainGangs of New YorkAmadeus). Though there is a long tradition of performers appearing on the big screen as themselves or famous violinists of the past, Quint’s role in Downtown Express marks the first time that a classical musician has been featured as the lead in an American independent film. To prepare for the role and further his understanding of film and theatre, Quint spent three years training intensely with legendary producer and acting instructor Sondra Lee.

Downtown Express, shot in the summer of 2010 on location in New York, chronicles the life of Russian classical violinist Sasha (Quint) who has recently come to New York to study at Juilliard, and who, defying his cellist father (played by Michael Cumpsty), becomes part of the experimental and raucous Downtown music scene of the city. Sparks fly when Sasha meets and begins performing with Ramona (McKay), a multi-talented singer-songwriter.

Inspired by real-life narratives, Downtown Express is an authentic musical love story turning on a conflict between a father and son, dramatizing the struggle to be a creative artist as well as an immigrant in a time of economic and political uncertainty – a story where the stakes are high and music becomes an expression of freedom. The film’s score features original music by Michael Bacon, McKay, Quint, as well as Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and the street musicians of New York City.

“I was instantly swept away by this story because it mirrored my life in so many ways,” says the Russian-born Quint, who defected to the U.S. as a teenager, in part to avoid army service in Russia, in part to study with The Juilliard School’s renowned teacher Dorothy DeLay and take instruction from such luminaries as Isaac Stern and Itzhak Perlman.

For Quint, until now, acting has played “second fiddle” to…the fiddle. A two-time Grammy Award nominee, Quint has emerged in recent years as one of the few soloists to combine a remarkable degree of lyricism, poetry and impeccable virtuosity. He has gripped the eyes and ears of audiences in Asia, Australia, Latin America, Africa, Europe and the U.S. with what The Times (London) describes as his “bravura technique, and unflagging energy.”

Quint’s big break came with his 2001 debut album, a recording of William Schuman’s Violin Concerto (Naxos), which was singled out as an Editor’s Choice by Gramophone and garnered two Grammy nominations. The disc catapulted Quint into the top tier of soloists, in demand worldwide. Moreover, it thoroughly established his unique identity as a champion of American composers. Since then, he has appear
ed with major orchestras und
er the batons of such noted conductors as Kurt Masur, Carl St. Clair, Marin Alsop, Andrew Litton, Jorge Mester, Carlos Miguel Prieto, Klauspeter Seibel, Steven Sloane, Marco Parisotto, and Daniel Hege.

Quint’s incredible musicianship and romantic bent may be part of his DNA. According to family lore, his great-great-great grandfather was an Italian officer (his original name was Quinto) serving in Napoleon’s army. Wounded, he fell in love with the Russian Jewish woman who nursed him back to health. Quint’s mother, Lora Kvint is a popular and prolific composer, who wrote Russia’s first pop/rock opera, “Giordano Bruno,” and is often compared to Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Quint’s admirers need not worry that he will abandon the concert stage for the screen. Recent and upcoming highlights of his 2010-2011 season include performances with the Berlin Komische Oper Orchestra for their New Year’s concerts with Carl St. Clair, Chicago Symphony, San Diego Symphony with Bramwell Tovey, Leipzig’s Gewandhaus with Steven Sloane, a tour of Germany with Nordwestdeutsche Symphoniker, and an 18-concert U.S. tour with the Cape Town Philharmonic.

Quint plays the 1708 “Ruby” Antonio Stradivari violin on loan to him through the generous efforts of The Stradivari Society®.

More about Philippe Quint: Quint studied at Moscow’s Special Music School for the Gifted with the famed Russian violinist Andrei Korsakov, and made his orchestral debut at the age of nine, performing Wieniawski’s Concerto No. 2. After emigrating to the United States, he earned both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Juilliard. His distinguished pedagogues included Dorothy Delay, Cho-Liang Lin, Masao Kawasaki, and Felix Galimir. He also studied and participated in masterclasses with Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman, and Arnold Steinhardt.

The Chicago Times proclaimed, “Here is a fiddle virtuoso whose many awards are fully justified by the brilliance of his playing.” Among his many honors, Quint has amassed top prizes at the Juilliard Competition (’98), Spain’s Pablo de Sarasate International Violin Competition (’97), where he also received the Special Audience Prize, and the Salon de Virtuosi Award (’97). He has been a Career Grant recipient of the Bagby Foundation since 2002.

In addition to his recording of the Schumann Concerto, Quint’s formidable discography includes a large variety of rediscovered treasures along with popular works from standard repertoire. His recording of Korngold’s Violin Concerto (2009), which was ranked in the top 20 on Billboard’s Classical Chart in its first week of sales, was also nominated for two Grammy Awards. Other critically acclaimed recordings include the world premiere recording of John Corigliano’s Red Violin Caprices, Ned Rorem’s Concerto, Miklos Rozsa’s Complete Works for Violin and Piano with William Wolfram, Bernstein’s Serenade, and De Beriot’s Concertos. His most recent release from August 2010 is a unique compilation of works by Paganini arranged by Fritz Kreisler, which BBC Music Magazine called “truly phenomenal.”

Quint’s recordings have received multiple “Editor’s Choice” selections in GramophoneThe StradStrings, and the Daily Telegraph. His live performances and interviews have been broadcast on CBS, CNN, ABC, BBC, NBC, Reuters, Bloomberg, as well as multiple appearances on NPR, WNYC and WQXR.

Quint has been consistently re-engaged both domestically and internationally; recent performances include appearances as soloist with the symphony orchestras of Detroit, Indianapolis, New Jersey, Minnesota, Bournemouth, Houston, the Weimar Staatskapelle, Orchestra Cote du Basque, Orchestra de Pamplona, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, China National Symphony Orchestra, and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. He has given solo recitals and chamber music performances at the Mostly Mozart, Caramoor, Ravinia, Aspen, Lincoln Center, and Chautauqua festivals, at Lukas Foss’s Hamptons Music Festival, at the Kravis Center, UC Davis Presents, Rome Chamber Festival and at the National Gallery in Washington. In 2004, Quint was the featured soloist at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles in the world premiere of Lera Auerbach’s Concerto No. 1, which was written for him and dedicated to him.

In addition to his work as a soloist, Quint is Founder and Artistic Director of the Chamber Music Series at Mexico Festival in Mexico City, and recently formed the Quint Quintet – a group dedicated to exploring music of Astor Piazzolla and Argentine Tango.

Philippe Quint’s Concert Schedule:

January 27 & 28, 2011
Bochum, Germany; Bochumer Symphoniker
John Corigliano’s “Red Violin” Concerto; Steven Sloane, conductor

February 1 & 3, 2011
Cape Town, South Africa; Cape Town Philharmonic
Korngold Concerto / Tchaikovsky Concerto; Martin Panteleev conductor

February 12 – March 6, 2011
U.S. tour with the Cape Town Philharmonic
Korngold Concerto / Tchaikovsky Concerto; Martin Panteleev conductor
February 12 – Daytona Beach, FL; Daytona Beach Symphonic Society, Peabody Auditorium
February 13 – Sarasota, FL; Van Wezel Performing Arts Center
February 14– Avon Park, FL; South Florida Community College
February 15– Vero Beach, FL; Indiana River Symphonic Associations
February 16– Palm Beach, FL; Society of the Four Arts
February 17– Fort Lauderdale, FL; Broward Center for the Performing Arts
February 19– Gainesville, FL; University of Florida,
February 20– St. Augustine, FL; Emma Concert Association/Flagler College
February 21 – Clemson, SC; Clemson University
February 23– Platteville, WI; University of Wisconsin
February 25– Kansas City, MO; William Jewell College, F

olly Theatre
February 27 – Ames, IA; Iowa State University
March 1– Worcester, MA; Music Worcester
March 3 – Lancaster, PA; Lancaster Community Concerts
March 4– Lewisburg, PA; Bucknell University
March 5 – Landsdale, PA; Lansdale Community Concerts
March 6– Geneva, NY; Geneva Concerts

March 12 & 13, 2011
Wichita, KS; Wichita Symphony
John Corigliano’s “Red Violin” Chaconne & Ravel’s Tzigane; Daniel Hege conductor

March 18 – 26, 2011
Chamber Music Series at Mexico Festival, Mexico City; Philippe Quint, Artistic Director

April 10, 2011
Leipzig, Germany; Leipzig Radio Symphony at the Gewandhaus
John Corigliano’s “Red Violin” Concerto; Steven Sloane, conductor

April 16, 2011
Peoria, IL; Peoria Symphony
Korngold’s Concerto

April 22 & 23, 2011
El Paso, TX; El Paso Pro Musica
With the Quint Quintet, featuring the music of Astor Piazzolla

May 5 – 7, 2011
Costa Mesa, CA; Pacific Symphony
Ravel’s Tzigane & Sarasate’s “Carmen” Fantasy; Carlos Miguel Prieto conductor

July 1 – 8, 2011
Tour with Youth Orchestra of the Americas in Mexico; Carlos Miguel Prieto, conductor

July 9, 2011
Minneapolis, MN; Minnesota Orchestra
Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto; Andrew Litton, conductor

July 17 – 22, 2011
Durango, Colorado; Music in the Mountains Festival

July 23 – August 1, 2011
Tour with Youth Orchestra of the Americas in Mexico; Carlos Miguel Prieto, conductor

August 3 – 9, 2011
Mexico City, Mexico; Mineria Symphony Orchestra
Brahms’ Double Concerto with cellist Alisa Weilerstein

August 14 – 21, 2011
Moritzburg, Germany; Moritzburg Chamber Festival



  • Marie Lamb says:

    Interesting news about Philippe Quint! He performed here a couple of years back with the Syracuse Symphony, and visited WCNY-FM for an interview. He was quite well-received here, so I’m sure I’ll have plenty of company in watching what happens with this. Best of luck with the “Song of Names” film, too; keep us posted on developments!