With a career spanning more than 30 years as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist and conductor, Joshua Bell is one of the most celebrated violinists of his era. An exclusive Sony Classical artist, Bell has recorded more than 40 CDs garnering Grammy, Mercury, Gramophone and Echo Klassik awards and is the recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize. Named the Music Director of the Academy of St
Martin in the Fields in 2011, he is the only person to hold this post since Sir Neville Marriner formed the orchestra in 1958.
On August 18, 2017 Sony released the Joshua Bell Classical Collection, a 14 CD set of Bell’s Sony recording highlights from the past 20 years. In September 2016, Sony Classical released Bell’s album,
For the Love of Brahms with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, cellist Steven Isserlis and pianist
Jeremy Denk. Bell’s 2014 Sony release was a Bach album recorded with the Academy that coincided with an HBO YoungArts documentary special, Joshua Bell: A YoungArts MasterClass. His 2013 release with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, featured him conducting Beethoven’s Fourth and Seventh symphonies and debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts. Slated for April, 2018 is Bell’s recording with the Academy of St Martin n the Fields of the Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy and g minor Concerto.
Bell recently engaged in two tech projects: With Embertone, the leading virtual instrument sampling company, the Joshua Bell Virtual Violin was created for producers, artists, engineers and composers. Bell also teamed up with Sony for the Joshua Bell VR Experience featuring Bell performing Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 1 in full 360-degree VR. This experience is available for free download for SONY PlayStation 4 VR.
Seeking opportunities to increase violin repertoire, Bell has premiered new works by John Corigliano, Aaron Jay Kernis, Nicholas Maw, Edgar Meyer, Behzad Ranjbaran and Jay Greenberg. He also performs and has recorded his own cadenzas to most of the major violin concertos.
Perhaps the event that helped most to transform Bell’s reputation from “musician’s musician’ to household name was his incognito performance in a Washington, D.C. subway station in 2007. Ever adventurous, he had agreed to participate in a Washington Post story by Gene Weingarten which thoughtfully examined art and context. The story earned Weingarten a Pulitzer Prize and sparked an international firestorm of discussion. The conversation continues to this day, and inspired the 2013 children’s book The Man with the Violin by Kathy Stinson, illustrated by Dušan Petričić from Annick Press. Just published in 2017 by the same team is The Dance of the Violin which recalls the 12-year-old Bell making a mistake at the Stulberg International String competition and the unexpected outcome which transpired when he was given a second chance.
Bell has reached new audiences from collaborations with artists outside the classical arena and performances on television shows including his 2017 seventh Live from Lincoln Center special: Joshua Bell: Seasons of Cuba. Appearances on The Tonight Show, Tavis Smiley, Charlie Rose, and CBS Sunday Morning, Sesame Street and all three seasons of Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle have earned new fans. 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 also comprise his CV. He has twice performed on the Grammy Awards telecast, playing music from Short Trip Home and West Side Story Suite, and has been a presenter AND a Grammy Award recipient.
Growing up with his two sisters in Bloomington, Indiana, Bell was an avid computer game player. He 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 his 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.
Bell served for three years as an adjunct professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, helping to develop a new line of musical instruments and toys. He currently serves as a senior lecturer at the Jacobs School of Music, his alma mater at Indiana University which has also 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.
Convinced of the value of music as a diplomatic and educational tool, Bell participated in President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities’ first cultural mission to Cuba. He is also involved in Turnaround Arts, another project implemented by the Committee and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, which provides arts education to low-performing elementary and middle schools.
Bell has performed for three U.S. Presidents as well as the President of China and devoted himself to several charitable causes, most notably Education Through Music, which put instruments in the hands of thousands of children in America’s inner cities.
Bell performs on the 1713 Huberman Stradivarius violin and uses a late 18th century French bow by François Tourte.