The Kennedy Center

Joshua Bell


Grammy ® Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell has been captivating audiences around the globe for more than 20 years. Known for his poetic musicality, Joshua first came to national attention at age 14 when he made his highly acclaimed orchestral debut with Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra. That performance, soon followed by his Carnegie Hall debut, an Avery Fisher Career Grant and a recording contract, created a sensation that spread throughout the music world. Now in his thirties, Joshua has performed with nearly every leading symphony orchestra and conductor, recorded 27 albums and earned the rare title of classical music superstar. “Bell has evolved from a technical whiz to a true artist and intellectual whose music feeds both your brain and your heart,” said Newsweek .

In October of 2003, Joshua received the Indiana Governor's Arts Award and his 27 th CD was released from Sony Classical entitled Romance of the Violin. Featuring a collection of timeless classical melodies recorded with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and conducted by Michael Stern, selections from the CD will be heard on his PBS TV special on January 14, 2004: Live From Lincoln Center: Joshua Bell at the Penthouse.

Joshua and his two sisters were raised on a farm in Bloomington, Indiana. As a child Joshua indulged in many passions outside of music, becoming an avid computer game player and a competitive athlete. He placed fourth in a national tennis tournament at age 10 and still keeps his racquet close by. Joshua received his first violin at age four after his parents, both psychologists by profession, noticed him plucking tunes with rubber bands he had stretched around the handles of his dresser drawers. By 12 he was serious about the instrument thanks in large part to the inspiration of renowned violinist and pedagogue Josef Gingold, who had become his beloved teacher and mentor.

Joshua's 2003-04 performance season began with a summer tour of South America and appearances at the Aspen, Saratoga and Tanglewood festivals, as well as the Menuhin Festival Gstaad. North American performances include concerts with the Seattle Symphony, the New York Philharmonic and the Montreal Symphony, as well as a recital tour with pianist Simon Mulligan. The highlight of Joshua's season is the premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Corigliano's Concerto for Violin & Orchestra (“The Red Violin”) which Joshua will debut in Baltimore and perform in Dallas, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. 

European highlights consist of an 11-city tour with Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra, a German tour as soloist/orchestra leader with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and concerts with the Orquestra Nacionales de España , the Orchestre de Paris, the London Philharmonic and the English Chamber Orchestra.

Equally at home as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestra leader, Joshua Bell's career is exceptionally varied. He enjoys chamber music collaborations with artists such as Pamela Frank, Steven Isserlis and Edgar Meyer as well as occasional collaborations with artists outside the classical arena including Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea and James Taylor.

Joshua signed his first recording contract at age 18 with London/Decca for whom he recorded much of the classical violin repertoire. Searching to expand his musical horizons, he joined Sony Classical in 1996, resulting in a diverse collection of albums. His most recent releases are the Mendelssohn & Beethoven violin concertos with Camerata Salzburg conducted by Sir Roger Norrington (featuring Bell's original cadenzas), and the Iris motion picture soundtrack composed by James Horner. In 2002, his Grammy ® - winning recording of West Side Story Suite, based on Leonard Bernstein's works, was spotlighted by a performance on the 44 th Annual Grammy Awards telecast and also featured on the Emmy ® nominated 2001 PBS Great Performances special, “Joshua Bell: West Side Story Suite from Central Park.” In 2001, Joshua received the Grammy Award and a Mercury Music Prize for the Nicolas Maw Violin Concerto which was written for Joshua and featured Sir Roger Norrington conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Joshua's Sibelius & Goldmark violin concertos with Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic captured the Echo Klassik Award for Best Concerto Recording. Joshua also received a Grammy nomination for Gershwin Fantasy featuring John Williams as conductor and pianist.

Eager to further blur the lines between musical genres, Joshua hooked up in 1998 with longtime friend, bassist and composer Edgar Meyer, and legendary bluegrass musicians Sam Bush and Mike Marshall resulting in the Grammy Award-nominated Short Trip Home , performed on the 42 nd Annual Grammy Awards. Other projects include collaborations with Wynton Marsalis on the spoken word children's album, Listen to the Storyteller , and Bèla Fleck's Perpetual Motion . Both albums received Grammy Awards.

Joshua's most mainstream effort yielded the ultimate accolade during the 72 nd Academy Awards. ® Following his three-year involvement with the film “The Red Violin,” where he was responsible for all solo violin music composed by John Corigliano, the album captured the Oscar ® for Best Original Score. The jubilant Corigliano proclaimed in his televised acceptance speech, “Joshua plays like a god.”

Joshua has been featured on many television programs including “The Tonight Show,” “Nightline,” “Late Night with Conan O'Brien,” “CBS This Morning,” A&E's “Biography,” and the PBS programs “Charlie Rose,” “Evening at Pops,” “Live from Lincoln Center” and “Sesame Street.” He has been profiled in publications including People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People issue, The New York Times , Elle , Esquire , Newsweek , Vogue , Gramophone , Strad, Strings and USA Weekend. Joshua was one of the first classical artists to have a music video air on VH1 and he has been the subject of a BBC Omnibus documentary. Elle Magazine stated that Joshua “is the most celebrated American-born violinist of the modern era.”

In 1989, Joshua received an Artist Diploma in Violin Performance from Indiana University. His alma mater honored him with a Distinguished Alumni Service Award only two years after his graduation.

Joshua has taught master classes at London's Royal Academy of Music and he has served as Adjunct Professor at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, helping to develop a new generation of high tech instruments and toys.

Joshua resides in New York City where he spends his free time practicing his violin, the 1713 “Gibson ex Huberman” Stradivarius.

February 2004
Joshua Bell