Joshua Bell: Talent, notoriety and a 298-year-old violin

January 26th, 2011 at 11:08 am

Joshua Bell

When asked to list some of the top acts in the classical world, there are a few names that come to mind, names like Yo-Yo Ma, David Garrett and Izthak Perlman, the type of names that are recognized far beyond the classical music realm.

Joshua Bell is another of those names.

Considered to be one of the classical world’s top violinists, Bell is on a brief departure from performing with some of the world’s best-known symphonies and is on tour with just a pianist, Sam Haywood. The tour arrives in Fayetteville on Friday (Jan. 28) at the Walton Arts Center.

Despite being in his early 40s, Bell has been performing for decades, and he’s received a long list of awards for his skills. He’s earned a Grammy Award, a Mercury Music Prize, a German Echo Klassik award, performed on the Oscar-winning soundtrack of the movie “The Red Violin ” and has been named to People magazine’s list of the 50 Most Beautiful People.

Bell chatted with me (and several other reporters) during a conference call around the Christmas holiday. He spent time chatting about improving his repertoire, what the small-scale tour allows him to do that a full orchestra cannot and the infamous subway incident, where he performed on his prized violin, a 1713 Stradivarius, for a crowd of passersby in a Washington D.C. metro station. A newspaper story about the endeavor earned journalist Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post a Pulitzer Prize.

To read our story about Bell, you’ll have to visit What’s Up!, which printed last Friday. [Note: Subscriber content.]

Tickets to Bell’s performance are $48-$72 and are available by calling 443-5600 or through the center’s ticketing office.

Update: An earlier version of this post incorrectly listed the date of manufacture of Bell’s violin.

  • CeliaK

    I really enjoy classical music, and I have always thought that it doesn’t get the attention it deserves, that is until Joshua Bell did his little playing in the subway trick. I knew he looked familiar to me. What a wonderful article that was.