In April, four-time Grammy nominee violinist Philippe Quint celebrates two milestones – the release of his recording of concertos by Mendelssohn and Bruch, and Beethoven's Romances Nos. 1 and 2, with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería led by Carlos Miguel Prieto (US release date: today, April 24) on the Avanticlassic label, as well as the theatrical opening by International Film Circuit of Downtown Express, a new film Quint stars in from multiple Peabody and Emmy Award-winning director David Grubin, produced by Michael Hausman (Brokeback Mountain, Gangs of New York, Amadeus), and co-starring singer-songwriter Nellie McKay (Quad Cinema in NYC, opening April 20).
Quint's role in Downtown Express marks the first time that a classical musician has been featured as the lead in an American film. To prepare for the role and further his understanding of the craft, Quint spent three years training intensely with legendary producer and acting instructor Sondra Lee.
"I came to find similarities between my musical training at Juilliard and the craft of theater," said Quint. "Actors and musicians must both stay in the moment. To be a conscious musician you must listen to your partners, whether you are playing with a symphony orchestra or chamber music ensemble."
Set in the world of Russian immigrants living in New York City, Downtown Express uses music to explore the clash of old world values against the lure and excitement of a new country. Under the watch of his loving but overbearing father, virtuoso violinist and Juilliard student Sasha (Quint) prepares for a critical recital meant to launch his career. Yet, he is increasingly drawn to the rhythms of the streets of New York, and when he meets singer-songwriter Ramona (McKay), he joins her band, falls in love, and begins to lead a double life, careening frantically between two worlds. As his classical debut nears, Sasha must decide whether to break with his father and forge his own destiny.
Quint's new album was recorded in August 2011 at Sala Nezahualcóyotl in Mexico City. Quint was most recently nominated for a Grammy in 2009 for his recording of Korngold's Violin Concerto, also with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería and Prieto. Quint and Prieto, who have worked closely together in numerous performances over the last decade, sought to create an inspired take on these well-known favorites of the violin repertoire.