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