The Newark Airport Taxi Holding Area is hardly a typical location for a concert by Grammy-nominated violinist Philippe Quint, but that's where roughly 200 cabbies got to hear a special recital.
The performance was a thank-you note from a grateful musician to a cab company that saved him after he forgot his 285-year-old Stradivarius violin, valued at $4 million, in one of their cars.
"Instruments frequently become part of your family. And that was exactly the case with that particular instrument, which is one of the most glorious instruments in the world," Quint said.
Two weeks ago, after a late flight into Newark Liberty International Airport, Quint took Mohamed Khalil's taxi home to downtown New York and took his bags out of the back seat. But as the cab drove away, Quint realized he had left the most valuable item in the taxi, his borrowed Stradivarius.
"And, of course, I thought I was going to faint!" the musician said. "Right away, well, I think I did faint, in fact. I wasn't sure who I could find, so my first phone call was to 911."
The frantic search was on for the rare, $4 million instrument — one of only three Ex-Keisewetter violins, which had been loaned to Quint by American philanthropists Clement and Karen Arrison. . "I cannot explain the state that I was in," Quint said. "You know, my heart was in my feet."
After many calls and sleepless hours of pacing, Quint's quest led him back to Khalil, the driver who recovered the rare instrument.
"I opened the trunk for him and I told him, 'it's the same way you left it,'" Khalil said.
"And I took the violin and I went —" Quint collapsed dramatically to the ground to illustrate his reaction.
But how do you thank someone for such incredible honestly? The violinist decided to give a part of himself — his music.
"These people work so much and so hard that they don't get much chance to get out a bit to Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center, so I thought it would be wonderful just to give something — something that is part of me, part of my soul," Quint said. "It's my art, this is the best I can give to people."
Quint performed pieces by George Gershwin, Paganini, and an original blues composition.
Khalil and his family will also attend Quint's next performance at Carnegie Hall in September.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.