The Academy of St Martin in the Fields is delighted to announce that Music Director Joshua Bell’s contract has been extended until 2023. The news comes at the start of the Academy’s 60th anniversary season and was announced at a Gala concert, on 12 November, at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall.
As one of the world’s most celebrated violinists and a renowned figure on the international concert stage, Bell has led the London-based chamber orchestra as Music Director since 2011. He is only the second person to hold the title, succeeding Academy founder Sir Neville Marriner, who held the role from the orchestra’s formation in 1958 until 2011, when he was named Life President. Bell’s appointment cemented a long and acclaimed partnership with the Academy which began in 1998, when Bell was 21 years old, with their first collaboration, Bell’s first concerto recordings of Bruch and Mendelssohn, conducted by Sir Neville Marriner.
Joshua Bell comments: ‘I’m truly thrilled to be extending my contract as Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields for another three seasons. Since the start of my tenure in 2011, the Academy has been my musical family, and each time we see each other it feels like both a homecoming and the start of a new adventure. I’m already looking forward to many more exciting concerts and tours around the world with this incredible orchestra.’
Alan Watt, Chief Executive of Academy of St Martin in the Fields comments: ‘Since joining the Academy as Music Director in 2011, Joshua Bell has led the Academy on an exciting musical journey and on behalf of the Academy – our musicians, staff and board – I’m delighted that today we are announcing his contract extension. I’m thrilled that we’ll be continuing our close collaboration with this extraordinary musician into 2023 and look forward to inspiring new audiences around the world together.’
Bell directed the gala concert from the violin, performing as soloist Mendelssohn’s beloved Violin Concerto in E minor. The programme celebrated the Academy’s past, present and future, with Mozart’s Symphony No. 25, which famously features on the orchestra’s soundtrack to the Oscar-winning film Amadeus, as well as featuring the UK premiere of Composer-in-Residence Sally Beamish’s Hover, dedicated to the memory of Sir Neville Marriner. The Academy are Classic FM’s Artists in Residence, and will broadcast the concert in Classic FM’s The Full Works on Thursday 21 November, 8 – 10pm.
The Academy perform the Beamish and Mendelssohn alongside Mozart’s Divertimento at West Road Concert Hall, as part of the Cambridge Music Festival on Thursday 14 November. The Academy Chamber Ensemble also returns to Wigmore Hall with Bell on Friday 15 November to perform Dvořák’s well-loved String Sextet in A major and the two surviving movements of Borodin’s lesser known String Sextet. Two horns join the ensemble for Mozart’s charming and light-hearted Divertimento No. 10.
Later in the season, Bell directs the Academy from the leader’s chair in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on Sunday 19 January 2020. The programme explores iconic string orchestra repertoire from the 18th, 19th & 20th centuries: from Bach’s spirited Violin Concerto with Bell as soloist, to Schubert’s Death and the Maiden (arranged for string orchestra by Mahler), to Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.3 in G major and Piazzolla’s virtuosic Four Seasons of Buenos Aires (arranged by Leonid Desyatnikov for violin and strings). The Orchestra takes the same programme to London’s Cadogan Hall on Monday 20 January 2020.
The Academy and Bell travel to the United States Saturday 15 February – Wednesday 4 March for a 17-date tour to Sarasota, Vero Beach & West Palm Beach, Florida; North Bethesda, Maryland; Newark, New Jersey; Boston, Massachusetts; East Lansing, Michigan; Akron, Ohio; Stillwater, Oklahoma; and Davies, San Francisco, San Diego, Costa Mesa & Northridge, California. Bell directs a programme of Mozart, Brahms and Beethoven, and performs as soloist in Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1 and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor. The Academy also travels abroad this season with acclaimed guest artists such as Jörg Widmann, Fazil Say and Principal Guest Conductor Murray Perahia.