Often referred to as the "poet of the violin," JOSHUA BELL is one of the world's most celebrated violinists. He continues to enchant audiences with his breathtaking virtuosity, tone of sheer beauty, and charismatic stage presence. His restless curiosity, passion, universal appeal, and multi-faceted musical interests have earned him the rare title of "classical music superstar." Recently named the Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Bell is the first person to hold this post since Sir Neville Marriner formed the orchestra in 1958.
Equally at home as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist and orchestra leader, Bell's 2013 summer highlights include performances with the Israeli Philharmonic and at Eastern, Brevard, Tanglewood and Mostly Mozart festivals. As the featured soloist he will tour for the Inaugural Season of the National Youth Orchestra of the U.S.A. with Valery Gergiev to New York, Washington, D.C., London, Moscow and St. Petersburg; with the Australian Youth Orchestra in Australia and Europe; and with the San Diego Symphony to China. He performs a South American recital tour with pianist Alessio Bax and a European tour with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Bell guests with the Houston, Dallas, St. Louis symphonies, and Carnegie Hall’s season opening gala with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
In 2014 Bell reunites with his beloved Academy of St Martin in the Fields, directing Beethoven’s 3rd and 5th Symphonies and recording the violin concertos of Bach. He will also perform the Brahms concerto with the legendary Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of Paavo Järvi, and the Sibelius with Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic. A U.S. recital tour with Sam Haywood, a performance at the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony Orchestra and dates with the Los Angeles Philharmonic round out the season.
An exclusive Sony Classical artist, Bell has recorded more than 40 CDs since his first LP recording at age 18 on the Decca Label. In October, 2013 Sony will release Musical Gifts From Joshua Bell and Friends, featuring collaborations with Chris Botti, Kristin Chenoweth, Chick Corea, Gloria Estefan, Renee Fleming, Placido Domingo, Alison Krauss and others. Recent releases include The Beethoven 4th and 7th symphonies with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields under Bell’s leadership as music director; French Impressions with pianist Jeremy Denk, featuring sonatas by Saint-Saens, Ravel and Franck, At Home With Friends, Vivaldi's The Four Seasons with The Academy of St Martin in the Fields, The Tchaikovsky Concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic, as well as The Red Violin Concerto, The Essential Joshua Bell, Voice of the Violin, and Romance of the Violin which Billboard named the 2004 Classical CD of the Year, and Bell the Classical Artist of the Year. Bell received critical acclaim for his concerto recordings of Sibelius and Goldmark, Beethoven and Mendelssohn, and the Grammy Award winning Nicholas Maw concerto. His Grammy-nominated Gershwin Fantasy premiered a new work for violin and orchestra based on themes from Porgy and Bess. Its success led to a Grammy-nominated Bernstein recording that included the premiere of the West Side Story Suite as well as the composer's Serenade. Bell appeared on the Grammy-nominated crossover recording Short Trip Home with composer and double bass virtuoso Edgar Meyer, as well as a recording with Meyer of the Bottesini Gran Duo Concertante. Bell also collaborated with Wynton Marsalis on the Grammy-winning spoken word children's album Listen to the Storyteller and Bela Flecks' Grammy Award recording Perpetual Motion. Highlights of the Sony Classical film soundtracks on which Bell has performed include The Red Violin which won the Oscar for Best Original Score, the Classical Brit-nominated Ladies in Lavender, and the films, Iris and Defiance.
Seeking opportunities to increase violin repertoire, Bell has premiered new works by Nicholas Maw, John Corigliano, Aaron Jay Kernis, Edgar Meyer, Behzad Ranjbaran and Jay Greenberg. Bell also performs and has recorded his own cadenzas to most of the major violin concertos.
In 2007, Bell performed incognito in a Washington, DC subway station for a Washington Post story by Gene Weingarten examining art and context. The story earned Weingarten a Pulitzer Prize and sparked an international firestorm of discussion. The conversation continues to this day, thanks in part to the September, 2013 publication of the illustrated children’s book, The Man With the Violin by Kathy Stinson illustrated by Dušan Petričić from Annick Press.
Bell has been embraced by a wide television audience with appearances ranging from The Tonight Show, Tavis Smiley, Charlie Rose, and CBS Sunday Morning to Sesame Street. In 2012 Bell starred in his sixth Live From Lincoln Center Presents broadcast titled: One Singular Sensation: Celebrating Marvin Hamlisch. Other PBS shows include Joshua Bell with Friends @ The Penthouse, Great Performances – Joshua Bell: West Side Story Suite from Central Park, Memorial Day Concert performed on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol, and A&E’s Biography. He has twice performed on the Grammy Awards telecast, performing music from Short Trip Home and West Side Story Suite. He was one of the first classical artists to have a music video on VH1 and he was the subject of a BBC Omnibus documentary. Bell has appeared in publications ranging from The Strad and Gramophone to Time, The New York Times, People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People, USA Today, The Wall St. Journal, GQ, Vogue and Readers Digest among many.
Growing up with his two sisters in Bloomington, Indiana, Bell was an avid computer game player and placed fourth in a national tennis tournament at age 10, and still keeps his racquet close by. At age four, he received his first violin after his parents, both mental health professionals, noticed him plucking tunes with rubber bands he had stretched around his dresser drawer handles. By 12 he was serious about the instrument, thanks in large part to the inspiration Josef Gingold, his beloved teacher and mentor. Two years later, Bell came to national attention in debut with Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra. His Carnegie Hall debut, an Avery Fisher Career Grant and a notable recording contract further confirmed his presence.
In 1989, Bell received an Artist Diploma in Violin Performance from Indiana University where he currently serves as a senior lecturer at the Jacobs School of Music. His alma mater honored him with a Distinguished Alumni Service Award, he has been named an “Indiana Living Legend” and is the recipient of the Indiana Governor’s Arts Award.
Bell has received many accolades: In 2013 he was honored by the New York Chapter, The Recording Academy; in 2012 by the National YoungArts Foundation, 2011 the Paul Newman Award from Arts Horizons and the Huberman Award from Moment Magazine. Bell was named “Instrumentalist of the Year, 2010 by Musical America and received the Humanitarian Award from Seton Hall University. In 2009 he was honored by Education Through Music and received the Academy of Achievement Award in 2008. In 2007 he was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize and recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. He was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame in 2005.
Bell serves on the artist committee of the Kennedy Center Honors and the Board of Directors of the New York Philharmonic. He has twice performed before President Obama and returned to the Capital to perform for Vice President Biden and President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping.
Bell performs on the 1713 Huberman Stradivarius violin and uses a late 18th century French bow by Francois Tourte.