Classical youth, poet with strings |

Classical youth, poet with strings

Andrew Harley
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When he was 4 years old, Joshua Bell’s parents found him playing melodies with rubber bands he’d fastened around his dresser drawers. They promptly purchased a violin and Bell has pursued his bow-and-stringed dreams ever since.

He plays at the Vilar Center Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Bell’s musical career matured rapidly, as he made his first national splash with Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra. He’s gone on to work with an incredible list of musicians in the classical spectrum as well as with some of the most respected musicians of popular, genre-specific traditions, like Wynton Marsalis, Bela Fleck, Bobby McFerrin, Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer, Chick Corea and James Taylor.

The awards and accolades Joshua Bell has under his belt seems like a wish list for the most enterprising of professional musicians. Among his awards, Bell won a Grammy for his suite version of Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story.”

In 1998, Bell teamed up with Meyer, Sam Bush and Mike Marshall on “Short Trip Home,” which was nominated for a Grammy. He worked with Marsalis on “Listen to the Storyteller,” and with Fleck on “Perpetual Motion” – both garnered Grammy Awards.

Bell’s most recent work, “Romance of the Violin,” had a run at the top of Billboard’s Classical Traditional Chart. From Bach to Puccini, the album, Bell’s 27th, features his violin’s song on three centuries worth of classical melodies.

Craig Leon arranged the music for “Romance of the Violin,” and he came with quite a resume, having worked with artists like Luciano Pavarotti and Andreas Scholl.

Bell once again proves his mastery of the “Gibson ex Huberman,” his violin made in 1713 by Antonius Stradivarius, which was stolen from Carnegie Hall in the 1930s, recovered in the ’80s and acquired by Bell from violinist Norbert Brainin.

“I wanted to do a solo album – a little different, a little lighter, more geared toward mainstream. And, instead of doing virtuoso show pieces, I was interested in doing just the most beautiful, slow pieces for the violin I could find,” said Bell in a recent interview with The Record of Bergen County, N.J. “And then it evolved into not just sticking with the violin repertoire but actually arranging melodies from other areas of classical music.”

When he was 18, Bell signed his first record contract with London/Decca, and, in 1996, he moved on to Sony Classical.

Bell also performed all of the solo violin music for the Academy Award winning score of “The Red Violin.”

And, another feature of this maestro is that he’s been widely-recognized for his physical appearance – profiled in People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People issue.

For more information on Joshua Bell, visit

Andrew Harley can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 610, or at

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