Joshua Bell Extends Tenure as Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields

12 Apr 2024

It was announced today that Joshua Bell has extended his contract as Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields (ASMF) for a further four seasons through August 2028, reasserting his commitment to the orchestra he has led since 2011.

The announcement comes during a week-long celebration of the centenary of ASMF’s founder, Sir Neville Marriner.  Across three concerts, Joshua Bell directs the orchestra from the violin in performances of Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 in G Minor (Monday 15 April, St Martin-in-the-Fields), Mendelssohn’s Octet in E-Flat Major (Tuesday 16 April, Wigmore Hall), the European premiere of Vince Mendoza’s Flight of Moving Days (commissioned by ASMF) and Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 (Thursday 18 April, Royal Festival Hall).  Further information about the concerts is available here.

Speaking about the announcement, Joshua Bell said:

“I am delighted to be extending my contract as Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields for another four seasons. My work with the ASMF has enriched my life in countless ways and I love them not only as one of the great orchestras of the world, but as a group of extraordinary individuals.

“It is an honour to announce this extension during the centenary celebration of Sir Neville Marriner, a man who not only helped launch my own recording career but who, over the course of half a century, fostered the Academy’s exceptional standard of excellence in orchestral playing that I strive to uphold today. I am excited to continue my work with this treasured orchestra, and look forward to many more exciting and ambitious projects.” 

Tom Lessells, ASMF clarinettist and Player Director, says:

“The Academy of St Martin in the Fields has been used to playing unconducted for a long time, but with Joshua leading us from within we have a recipe that results in concerts of unparalleled vitality and virtuosity.

“He demands the same unrelenting levels of focus and commitment of us that have long been a hallmark of his own playing and, without exception, we leave the stage feeling that we have given a performance as if our lives depended on it.  This approach allows audience and players alike to depart with the impression of hearing familiar music afresh and as if for the first time.

“He challenges us to listen harder and work harder, but is also incredibly generous as both a musician and person, and we are all stronger and more fulfilled musicians as a result.

“In the 13 years since Joshua joined the ASMF family, his leadership has elevated our understanding of orchestral playing, our abilities as a collective ensemble and our international standing to new heights.  We can’t wait to see what the next chapter in our relationship holds!”

Annie Lydford, Chief Executive of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, says:

“It has been extremely inspiring to work with Joshua Bell and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields these last two seasons. Joshua has a deep understanding of the DNA of this orchestra and its musicians, and the performances that they create together are second to none. There isn’t another artist who is better placed to continue to inspire and challenge us, and who can combine exquisite solo playing with directing such a range of music – from Bach to Brahms and Mozart to Mendoza – in the way that Joshua does. As a touring orchestra, we travel extensively with our Music Director, and the long-held relationship between Joshua and our players sits at the heart of this successful partnership. I am so pleased that we will continue our work with Joshua, who is not only this orchestra’s great artistic leader and champion, but also its friend.”

Joshua Bell is one of the most celebrated artists of his era. He has recorded more than 40 albums, garnering GRAMMY®, Mercury®, Gramophone and OPUS KLASSIK awards, and has performed with virtually every major orchestra in the world.  Active as a soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, director and conductor, he is also proud to be involved with Education Through Music and Turnaround Arts.

Photo: Shervin Lainez