Posted December 9, 2010
Cedar Rapids native to be showcased in documentary
No comments Diana Nollen/SourceMedia Group News

(Jane Coyne photo) Joshua Coyne, 14, performs for 13,000 at the beginning of an Obama rally at 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore, Monday, Feb. 11, 2008. Coyne spent his early childhood in Cedar Rapids before his family moved to the Washington, D.C., area in 2005.

From a media release

Violinist/composer and Cedar Rapids native Joshua Coyne joins ranks with Rita Dove and John Williams in a new documentary recovering the story of classical music’s black virtuoso George Bridgetower


A footnote in musical history takes center stage in Spark Media’s latest documentary based on the book by Pulitzer Prize winner and former Poet Laureate Rita Dove.  Born to a Polish-German mother and an Afro-Caribbean man who claimed to be an African prince, George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower was a child prodigy violinist who electrified 18th century Europe and inspired a Beethoven sonata.

Rita Dove’s “Sonata Mulattica” rescues Bridgetower from obscurity as she recounts his story through a lyrical narrative of moving poems. Director Andrea Kalin of Spark Media, collaborating with Dove, and project advisor renowned composer John Williams will adapt these evocative compositions into film and innovatively tell one of the great unknown stories of music history.

The film’s high point will be 17-year old violinist and composer Joshua Coyne whose evolving life story captured on screen will serve as a contemporary and sharp contrast to Bridgetower’s ill-fated trajectory.

(Jane Coyne photo) Josh Coyne's first paid gig, age 6. He performed at the home of Char Marsh in Cedar Rapids for a party attended by AEGON executives. His mom, Jane, says the wrist needed a little correction, but he performed for 30 minutes.

In a cinema verite style, Director Kalin will track Coyne’s dramatic life and early successes with Rembrandt’s compassionate honesty. Through Coyne’s expert interpretation and virtuosity the film celebrates the enduring and transcendent power of art.   

Spark Media, Inc. is an award-winning documentary production company based in Washington DC that specializes in meaningful documentaries and outreach initiatives that build bridges between diverse cultures.  Spark strives to inform and inspire audiences with stories that connect people – changing one family, one community, one struggle at a time.  Spark’s films include Partners of the Heart, broadcast on PBS American Experience and narrated by Morgan Freeman; the Paul Robeson Award-winning PBS special, Prince Among Slaves, narrated by Mos Def; and Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story, narrated by Oscar-nominee Patricia Clarkson, which was recently broadcast on the Smithsonian Channel.

Rita Dove is a Pulitzer Prize winning poet and author and a former Poet Laureate of the United States.  Her works have received international acclaim and numerous accolades, including the National Humanities Medal, the Heinz Award, and the NAACP Great American Artist Award.  In addition to her writing, Dove is the Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia. 

Joshua Coyne is a multi-talented musician whose performances include the Kennedy Center,

(Jane Coyne photo) Joshua Coyne with his current teacher, Lya Stern. This picture was taken at his recital, Jan. 13, 2008, in Washington, D.C. He performed the Intermezzo from Lalo/Symphony Espanole.

the World Affairs Council, and an appearance for President Obama before a crowd of 13,000.  He is the composer of the Anne & Emmett Suite for Strings and Piano and the musical score for Anne & Emmett, an acclaimed play written by Emmy nominated journalist Janet Langhart Cohen and featuring recorded narration by Morgan Freeman that recently completed its first national tour. Coyne, who is mentored by award winning composer Marvin Hamlisch, studies violin with Lya Stern and is a composition student at the Peabody Institute. His upcoming performances include a 2011 concert in Athens, Greece, with the award-winning Greek composer Michael Karras. Coyne will enter conservatory training in composition and performance in fall 2011.

George Bridgetower, a biracial violinist who enthralled turn-of-the-19th-century European nobility and inspired Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata despite being a mixed-race artist in a stratified white society.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  • Print
  • Email


documentary, George Bridgetower, John Williams, Joshua Coyne, Marvin Hamlish, Rita Dove

From the community

Local Life

SourceMedia Network

The Gazette Breaking news and sports
KCRG News and weather source

Business The speed of business
Life Quality of life news
Government Eastern Iowa government issues
Crime and Courts Breaking crime and courts news
Higher Education Higher education in Eastern Iowa
Health Health news all the time
Outdoors Hunting, fishing, canoeing, etc
Weather Share your weather conditions with us
Prep Sports Complete high school sports coverage
Schools Covering K-12 education in Eastern Iowa
Sports & Rec Smorgasbord of Eastern Iowa sports

Follow Eastern Iowa Life

Follow Our Writers on Twitter

Cindy Hadish: HomegrownIA
Diana Nollen: diananollen