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July 4, 2014
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Five questions with Joshua Bell, who returns Saturday for Bravo! Vail

Violinist Joshua Bell broke onto the scene at the heady age of 14 with none other than The Philadelphia Orchestra, so it seems only appropriate that they reunite again Saturday night at Bravo! Vail.

Bell, now 46 and one of the preeminent violinists of the era, and The Philadelphia Orchestra perform Bruch’s First Violin Concerto Saturday at 6 at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater.

It’s Bell’s second visit to Bravo! Vail — he performed Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in 2012 here to rave reviews.

In addition to a rigorous schedule that takes him all over the globe, Bell is a lecturer at the Indiana University’s (his home state) Jacobs School of Music, as well as the music director for the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.

And, yes, he played incognito in a Washington, D.C., metro station for 45 minutes and collected the princely sum of $32.17 in his violin case from passersby.

Since a violin is tuned in fifths, here are five questions with Bell via email:

Vail Daily: What was it like being a “child prodigy?”

Joshua Bell: I have never been fond of the title ‘child prodigy’ and was happy to grow up and out if it. The ‘prodigy’ label makes one into a circus act of sorts, which I never enjoyed. I preferred the audience listen to the music rather than think about how old I was. … The nice thing is that I’m not a football quarterback or I’d be announcing my retirement. Fortunately in classical music, I have many examples of musicians to look at who are in their 80s and 90s and still performing.”

VD: Describe your relationship with your violin.

JB: It’s been my companion for eight years and as with any relationship we’ve had intense moments, including an incident in Chicago when the bridge fell apart during a performance of the “Tchaikovsky Concerto.” There are some days when I just want to get rid of it. It’s not working with me the way it should, then, four days later, I completely fall in love with it again, and it will start to cooperate, like this living thing. It’s a marriage of ups and downs, but it’s still a love affair.

VD: How do you interpret a composer’s work?

JB: While being faithful to the composer, what I want the audience to come away with is feeling like they have heard the most incredible piece ever and that I have given them their own personal connection to the work.

VD: What are your goals for your career?

JB: I’d like to continue to conduct chamber music from the chair as I have done with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. I’m also interested in pursuing composing and continuing to teach. I haven’t begun to scratch the surface of the great repertoire I would like to record. And I would like to be a better golfer and table tennis player. I believe in treating every day as if it is my last.

VD: What’s on your iPod?

JB: My iPod is now my iPhone. I do carry headphones around. Sometimes I watch TV shows. I don’t listen to too much violin, but I do have (Jasha) Heifitz. I have the late piano sonatas, which I never get tired of; Beethoven symphonies; (works conducted by) Carlos Kleiber; (double bassist) Edgar Meyer. I occasionally put some jazz on there too.

Sports Editor Chris Freud is the Vail Daily’s resident classical-music fan and can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.


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The VailDaily Updated Jul 4, 2014 01:46PM Published Jul 7, 2014 08:48PM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.