Highly anticipated documentary The Violin Alone coming to MontanaPBS
MontanaPBS Monday, January 9, 2017 8pm
MontanaPBS Friday, January 27, 2017 9pm
The unlikely pairing of two modern visionaries, Vilmos Oláh, a Hungarian violin virtuoso, and Eric Funk, contemporary classical composer from the heart of Montana, has resulted in a new piece of music unlike anything written before. The Violin Alone is an extraordinary documentary film portrait of this revolutionary work of music, shared across continents, and lands that are rich with history and struggle.
Vili: Concerto for Violin Alone is an extreme concerto that pushes the boundaries of music and our notion of the possible. Oláh must play the solo and orchestra parts simultaneously. It presents a seemingly impossible task; he must emulate flutes, oboes, clarinet, and timpani, and must move his bow towards the bridge in an exact position to capture crisp brass punch of a trumpet fanfare. He must navigate idiomatic techniques that composer Eric Funk considered theoretically possible but most probably impossible. In the third movement, his right hand is bowing the solo part while his left hand ring finger is playing pizzicato to form the pulsing rhythmic accompaniment.
Composer Eric Funk first heard Oláh play in a recital in Bozeman, Montana. There he discovered Oláh’s virtuosity, timbrel range and idiomatic technique, so huge that while he was listening he started hearing an orchestra coming out of the solo violin. “This man is an orchestra all by himself” says Funk. One recital became the inspiration for Eric to write a concerto for the violin alone, specifically for Vili.
Creating a whole new vision of what the 21st century classical concerto might become, this new composition forecasts the emergence of a “new music genome”. The potential impacts are comparable in spirit to the once-deemed unplayable violin masterworks of late 18th c. composer Niccolo Paganini. Today, Paganini’s compositions are standard repertoire for professional players worldwide. Currently, Vilmos Oláh is most probably the only violinist in the world who can play this brave, new solo violin concerto.
It’s a reflection of the violinist, the composer, and the unquenchable human spirit of Eastern Europe. When facing endless occupations, wars, and suffering, the Hungarian people have continually risen to prevail while revealing a richness of deep feeling, a wealth of soul, and indelible spirit. It is this powerful force that Funk captures in a work that requires courage, perseverance, and phenomenal technical skill, creating a vehicle where one man alone can stand as a collective.
The Violin Alone was produced and directed by Emmy award winning MontanaPBS senior producer Scott Sterling. Sterling’s work includes directing and producing 12 seasons of MontanaPBS’ acclaimed music series 11th & Grant with Eric Funk, and award winning documentaries such as Fort Peck Dam. He has also contributed his skills as colorist and finishing editor to notable MontanaPBS films such as Indian Relay, Finding Traction, Class C: The Only Game In Town, Wolves in Paradise, and Bard in the Backcountry.
Sterling led a team of award winning filmmakers to Budapest, Hungary to capture the unusual collaboration between the Hungarian virtuoso and Montana composer, and has spent the last 4 years crafting a unique story that will resonate with music aficionados and anyone that appreciates artistic endeavor.