The Violin Alone

The unlikely pairing of two modern visionaries, Vilmos Olah, 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. Vili: Concerto for Violin Alone is an extreme concerto that pushes the boundaries of music and our notion of the possible. Written on two music staffs, Olah 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.
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.
Music is becoming simply a commodity - a global sound. Perhaps “Concerto for the Violin Alone” will become a blueprint for the future, and alter the way composers and musicians think and create. Two modern pioneers, from different worlds sharing the same voice, embark on a thrilling journey to reimagine what music can be.

  • Scott Sterling
    Director
    Fort Peck Dam, 11th & Grant with Eric Funk, Montana Focus with Gene Brodeur
  • Scott Sterling
    Writer
    Fort Peck Dam
  • Scott Sterling
    Producer
  • Vilmos Oláh
    Key Cast
  • Eric Funk
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Television
  • Runtime:
    55 minutes 10 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 4, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    45,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    Hungary, United States
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital 2K
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
  • World Premiere
    Bozeman, MT
    United States
    January 4, 2017
    World Premiere
  • Flathead Lake International Cinemafest
    Polson, MT
    United States
    January 20, 2017
    Best Documentary Feature - Honorable Mention, Best Director - Honorable Mention
  • Buffalo Niagara Film Festival
    Niagara Falls, NY
    United States
    September 28, 2017
  • Maverick Movie Awards

    United States
    Nominee for: Best Documentary, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing & Best Music
  • Chicago Amarcord Arthouse Television Awards
    Chicago, IL
    United States
    November 30, 2017
    Best Documentary
  • Budapest International Documentary Festival
    Budapest
    Hungary
    January 29, 2019
    Official Selection
  • Big Fork Independent Film Festival
    Big Fork, Montana
    United States
    April 6, 2019
    Special Jury Prize
  • Emmy Awards, National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Northwest Chapter
    Seattle, WA
    United States
    June 23, 2018
    Best Cultural Documentary, Best Director, Best Audio, Best Musical Composition, Best Photography, Best Editor, Best Promotion-Single Spot
Distribution Information
  • MontanaPBS
    Country: United States
Director Biography - Scott Sterling

Scott Sterling hails from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, where exposure to the outdoors, arts, and culture inspired a passion for art and storytelling. Sterling is a senior producer for MontanaPBS, bringing award winning films to the people of Montana and beyond. Scott’s annual attendance of the Aspen Music Festival and and his work in technical theatre with world class musicians and artists led to a deep passion for music and the arts. Translating that passion into unique documentary films has become his signature. Scott holds several demanding jobs in media production in southwestern Montana, working on both regional and national projects.
He has earned six Emmy® Awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Northwest Chapter, and revels in the juxtaposition of art and technology that is contemporary filmmaking.

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Director Statement

It was a sunny day at the Sola Café in Bozeman, Montana when I sat down with contemporary classical composer Eric Funk to learn about a new piece of music he had written specifically for a Hungarian violin virtuoso. “You wrote a piece for him?” I asked.
It was unusual to me that a composer would create a work with only one player in mind. He had piqued my interest, but I was skeptical of this new work’s ability to be something different, something new. Classical composers are not known to think outside the
box, and generally follow the traditions and rules of their predecessors. Why would I want to make a film about just another violin concerto? Then I remembered who was sitting across from me. The insanity of the maverick composer’s piece was still undisclosed.
Funk went on to explain how the new work’s player and inspiration, Vilmos Oláh, would be the orchestra, and the soloist. He would have to simulate flutes, oboes, French horns, and timpani - all on his violin. He would play the three-movement piece by himself, live.
No overdubbing, no multi-tracking. Eric had my attention. Every July in my childhood hometown in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, my folks would take me to a large canvas tent to hear classical music. There was always the standard repertoire, but once in a while they showcased something unusual and new. The now famous Aspen Music Festival planted a seed that has grown into a passion for contemporary music, and unfamiliar ways of thinking. Those experiences were the catalyst for a life long love of the performing arts and their juxtaposition with cinematic expression.
After I listened to a synthesized sample of Vili: Concerto for The Violin Alone, the dark, rich, and dissonant tones were like nothing I’d heard before. The multitude of rhythms and meter changes were steeped in the tradition of eastern European folk music; mournful, intense, and unbreakable. There’s no way one person could play this by himself, I was sure. Our coffee cups empty, I left the café on an incredible journey that would last nearly five years, encompass travels around the world and collaborations with musical legends. It would be a quest for the impossible. There are few things more meaningful to me than the opportunity to dive head first
into pure art, and few better people to do so with than Eric Funk, Vilmos Oláh, and Tamás Vásáry. The result is a story in which no predictions are involved - art for the sake of art - with willing pioneers ready to challenge the status quo.