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JOSHUA BELL

VIOLIN

MUSIC DIRECTOR – ACADEMY OF ST MARTIN IN THE FIELDS

ABOUT

With a career spanning almost four decades, GRAMMY® Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell is one of the most celebrated artists of his era. Bell has performed with virtually every major orchestra in the world, and continues to maintain engagements as a soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, conductor and as the Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields.

Bell’s highlights in the 2023-24 season include an international tour of his newly-commissioned project, The Elements, featuring works by renowned composers representing each of the five elements. Composers include Jake Heggie (Fire), Jennifer Higdon (Air), Edgar Meyer (Water), Jessie Montgomery (Space), and Kevin Puts (Earth). The work will receive its premiere performances with the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Hong Kong Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Bell will also release his new album on Sony Classical, Butterfly Lovers, in summer 2023. The record features the Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto by Chen Gang and He Zhanhao, newly arranged for a traditional Chinese orchestra conducted by Tsung Yeh. Bell will also lead the Academy of St Martin in the Fields on tour in Australia and throughout the United States. Bell appears as artist-in-residence this season with the NDR Elbphilharmonie, and as guest artist with the New Jersey Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony and more.

In 2011, Bell was named Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, succeeding Sir Neville Marriner, who formed the orchestra in 1959. Bell’s history with the Academy dates to 1986, when he first recorded the Bruch and Mendelssohn concertos with Marriner and the orchestra. Bell has since led the orchestra on several albums including Beethoven’s Fourth and Seventh Symphonies, an all-Bach album, For the Love of Brahms, and, most recently, Bruch: Scottish Fantasy, which was nominated for a 2019 GRAMMY® Award.

In summer 2020, PBS presented Joshua Bell: At Home With Music, a nationwide broadcast produced entirely in lockdown, by Tony and Emmy Award-winning director Dori Berinstein. The program included core classical repertoire as well as new arrangements of beloved works, including a West Side Story medley. The special featured guest artists Larisa Martínez, Jeremy Denk, Peter Dugan, and Kamal Khan. In August 2020, Sony Classical released the companion album to the special, Joshua Bell: At Home WithMusic (Live).

Bell has commissioned and premiered new works by John Corigliano, Edgar Meyer, Behzad Ranjbaran and Nicholas Maw, and his recording of Maw’s violin concerto received a GRAMMY® award.

Bell has collaborated with peers including Renée Fleming, Chick Corea, Regina Spektor, Wynton Marsalis, Chris Botti, Anoushka Shankar, Frankie Moreno, Josh Groban, and Sting, among others. In 2019, Bell joined his longtime friends and musical partners, cellist Steven Isserlis and pianist Jeremy Denk, for a ten-city American trio tour; the trio also recorded Mendelssohn’s piano trios at Capitol Studios in Hollywood, slated for release next season.

In 1998, Bell worked with composer John Corigliano on recording the film soundtrack for The Red Violin, which elevated Bell to a household name and garnered Corigliano an Academy Award. Since then, Bell has appeared on several other film soundtracks, including Ladies in Lavender (2004) and Defiance (2008). Bell commemorated the 20th anniversary of The Red Violin (1998) in 2018-19, bringing the film with live orchestra to various festivals and the New York Philharmonic.

Bell has also appeared three times as a guest star on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and made numerous appearances on the Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle. Bell is also featured on six Live From Lincoln Center specials, as well as a PBS Great Performances episode, “Joshua Bell: West Side Story in Central Park.” 

In 2021, Bell announced his new partnership with Trala, the tech-powered violin learning app. Bell maintains active involvement with Education Through Music and Turnaround Arts, and in 2014, Bell mentored and performed alongside National YoungArts Foundation string musicians in an HBO Family Documentary special, Joshua Bell: A YoungArts Masterclass. Bell received the 2019 Glashütte Original MusicFestivalAward, presented in conjunction with the Dresden Music Festival, for his commitment to arts education.

Bell’s ongoing partnership with Embertone, the leading virtual instrument sampling company, on the Joshua Bell Virtual Violin, a sampler created for producers, engineers, artists, and composers, is widely considered the best virtual instrument of its kind. Bell also collaborated on the Joshua Bell VR experience with Sony PlayStation 4 VR, which features Bell performing with pianist Sam Haywood in full 360-degrees VR.

As an exclusive Sony Classical artist, Bell has recorded more than 40 albums, garnering GRAMMY®, Mercury®, Gramophone and OPUS KLASSIK awards. Bell’s 2019 Amazon Originals Chopin Nocturne arrangement was the first classical release of its kind on Amazon Music. Bell’s 2016 release, For the Love of Brahms, features recordings with the Academy, Steven Isserlis, and Jeremy Denk. Bell’s 2013 album with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, featuring Bell directing Beethoven’s Fourth and Seventh symphonies, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts.

In 2007, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post story, centered on Bell performing incognito in a Washington, D.C. metro station, sparked an ongoing conversation regarding artistic reception. The feature inspired Kathy Stinson’s 2013 children’s book, The Man With The Violin, and an animated film with music by Academy Award-winning composer Anne Dudley. Stinson’s subsequent 2017 book, Dance With The Violin, illustrated by Dušan Petričić, offers a glimpse into one of Bell’s competition experiences at age 12. Bell debuted The Man With The Violin festival at the Kennedy Center in 2017, and, in March 2019, presented a Man With The Violin family concert with the Seattle Symphony.

Born in Bloomington, Indiana, Bell began playing the violin at age four, and at age twelve, began studies with his mentor, Josef Gingold. At age 14, Bell debuted with Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and made his Carnegie Hall debut at age 17 with the St. Louis Symphony. At age 18, Bell signed with his first label, London Decca, and received the Avery Fisher Career Grant. In the years following, Bell has been nominated for six GRAMMY® awards, named “Instrumentalist of the Year” by Musical America, deemed a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum, and received the Avery Fisher Prize. He has also received the 2003 Indiana Governor’s Arts Award and a Distinguished Alumni Service Award in 1991 from the Jacobs School of Music. In 2000, he was named an “Indiana Living Legend.”

Bell has performed for three American presidents and the justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. He participated in former president Barack Obama’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities’ first cultural mission to Cuba, joining Cuban and American musicians on an Emmy-nominated PBS Live from Lincoln Center special; Joshua Bell: Seasons of Cuba, celebrating renewed cultural diplomacy between Cuba and the United States.

Bell performs on the 1713 Huberman Stradivarius violin.

Apollo 13 in Concert poster

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