With a career spanning over thirty years as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist, conductor and director, Joshua Bell is one of the most celebrated violinists of his era. Since 2011, Bell has served as Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, succeeding Sir Neville Marriner, who formed the orchestra in 1958. Bell’s interests range from the repertoire’s hallmarks to commissioned works, including Nicholas Maw’s Violin Concerto, for which Bell received a GRAMMY® award. He has also premiered works of John Corigliano, Edgar Meyer, Jay Greenberg, and Behzad Ranjbaran.
Committed to expanding classical music’s social and cultural impact, Bell has collaborated with peers including Chick Corea, Wynton Marsalis, Chris Botti, Anoushka Shankar, Frankie Moreno, Josh Groban, and Sting. Recently, Bell joined cellist Steven Isserlis and pianist Jeremy Denk to record Mendelssohn’s piano trios, slated for release in early 2020. He also collaborated with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra on a record featuring the Butterfly Lovers’ Violin Concerto, to be released in fall 2020.
Bell maintains an avid interest in film music, commemorating the 20th anniversary of The Red Violin (1998) in 2018-19. The film’s Academy Award-winning soundtrack features Bell as soloist; in 2018, Bell brought the film with live orchestra to various summer festivals and the New York Philharmonic. In addition to six Live From Lincoln Center specials, Bell is also featured on a PBS Great Performances episode, “Joshua Bell: West Side Story in Central Park.”
Through music and technology, Bell further seeks to expand the boundaries of his instrument. He has partnered with Embertone on the Joshua Bell Virtual Violin, a sampler created for producers, engineers, and composers. Bell also collaborated with Sony on the Joshua Bell VR experience.
An exclusive Sony Classical artist, Bell has recorded over 40 albums garnering GRAMMY®, Mercury®, Gramophone and OPUS KLASSIK awards. Sony Classical’s June 2018 release, with Bell and the Academy, features Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy and G-minor Violin Concerto and received a GRAMMY® nomination.
In 2007, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post story, on Bell performing incognito in a Washington, D.C. metro station, sparked a conversation regarding artistic reception and context. It inspired Kathy Stinson’s 2013 children’s book, The Man With The Violin, and a newly-commissioned animated film. Bell debuted the 2017 Man With The Violin festival at the Kennedy Center, and, in March 2019, presented a Man With The Violin festival and family concert with the Seattle Symphony.
Bell advocates for music as an essential educational tool. He maintains active involvement with Education Through Music and Turnaround Arts, which provide instruments and arts education to children who may not otherwise experience classical music firsthand.
Born in Bloomington, Indiana, Bell began the violin at age four, and at age 12, began studies with Josef Gingold. At age 14, Bell debuted with Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and debuted at Carnegie Hall at age 17 with the St. Louis Symphony. Bell received the 2007 Avery Fisher Prize and has recently been named Musical America’s 2010 “Instrumentalist of the Year” and an “Indiana Living Legend.” He received the 2003 Indiana Governor’s Arts Award and a 1991 Distinguished Alumni Service Award from his alma mater, the Jacobs School of Music.
Bell performs on the 1713 Huberman Stradivarius violin, with a François Tourte 18th-Century bow.