With a career spanning almost four decades, Joshua Bell is one of the most celebrated violinists of his era. Having performed with virtually every major orchestra in the world, Bell continues to maintain engagements as soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, conductor and Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields.
In a moment when COVID-19 has shut down the majority of live performances, Bell has joined the movement to bring world-class performances online. On August 16, 2020, PBS presented Joshua Bell: At Home With Music, a nationwide broadcast directed by Tony and Emmy Award winner, Dori Berinstein. The program includes core classical material as well as new arrangements of beloved works, including a West Side Story medley. The special features guest artists Larisa Martínez, Jeremy Denk, Peter Dugan, and Kamal Khan.
Additional performances during the summer of 2020 included an Independence Day concert with the US Air Force Band, a concert for the Tanglewood Online Festival with pianist Jeremy Denk, and a virtual program for the Saratoga Performing Arts Center with pianist Peter Dugan. In July, Bell gave virtual performances with soprano Larisa Martínez as part of the Casals Festival, and for the Virtual Verbier Festival with pianist Daniil Trifonov.
In 2011, Bell was named Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, succeeding Sir Neville Marriner, who formed the orchestra in 1959. Bell’s history with the Academy dates back to 1986 when he first recorded the Bruch and Mendelssohn concertos with Marriner and the orchestra. Bell has since directed the orchestra on several albums including Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Voice of the Violin, For the Love of Brahms, and most recently, Bruch: Scottish Fantasy, which was nominated for a 2019 GRAMMY® Award.
Bell has been active in commissioning new works from living composers and has premiered concertos by John Corigliano, Edgar Meyer (double concerto), and Behzad Ranjbaran, as well as Nicholas Maw’s Violin Concerto, for which his recording received a GRAMMY® award.
Bell has also collaborated with artists across a multitude of genres. He has partnered with peers including Renée Fleming, Chick Corea, Regina Spektor, Wynton Marsalis, Chris Botti, Anoushka Shankar, Frankie Moreno, Josh Groban, and Sting, among others. In Spring 2019, Bell joined his longtime friends and musical partners cellist Steven Isserlis and pianist Jeremy Denk for a ten-city American trio tour. The trio recorded Mendelssohn’s piano trios at Capitol Studios in Hollywood, slated for release next season. Following Bell’s second collaboration with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra and Maestro Tsung Yeh in 2018, an upcoming album release features Bell as soloist alongside traditional Chinese instruments performing Western repertoire and the Butterfly Lovers’ Violin Concerto, one of the most renowned violin works in Chinese cultural heritage.
In 1998, Bell partnered with composer John Corigliano and recorded the soundtrack for the film The Red Violin, which helped Joshua Bell become a household name and garnered an Academy Award for the composer. Since then, he has appeared on several other film contracts including Ladies in Lavender (2004) and Defiance (2008).
Bell has also appeared three times as a guest star on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and made numerous appearances on the Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle. Bell is featured on six Live From Lincoln Center specials, as well as a PBS Great Performances episode, “Joshua Bell: West Side Story in Central Park.” In 2018–19, Bell commemorated the 20th anniversary of The Red Violin, bringing the film with live orchestra to various festivals and the New York Philharmonic.
Bell’s interest in technology led him to partner with Embertone, the leading virtual instrument sampling company, on the Joshua Bell Virtual Violin, a sampler created for producers, engineers, artists, and composers. Bell also collaborated with Sony on the Joshua Bell VR Experience. Featuring Bell performing with pianist Sam Haywood in full 360-degrees VR, the software is available on Sony PlayStation 4 VR.
As an exclusive Sony Classical artist, Bell has recorded more than 40 albums garnering GRAMMY®, Mercury®, Gramophone and OPUS KLASSIK awards. In August 2020, Sony Classical released Joshua Bell: At Home With Music, the companion album to the nationwide PBS broadcast of an intimate recital from his home. In Fall 2019, Bell’s new Chopin Nocturne arrangement was the first-ever Amazon Music Originals released on the platform. Bell’s 2016 release For the Love of Brahms includes 19th-century repertoire with the Academy, Steven Isserlis, and Jeremy Denk. Bell’s 2013 album with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, featuring Bell directing Beethoven’s Fourth and Seventh symphonies, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts.
In 2007, a Pulitzer Prize–winning Washington Post story centered on Bell performing incognito in a Washington, D.C. metro station sparked an ongoing conversation about artistic reception and context. The feature inspired Kathy Stinson’s 2013 children’s book, The Man with the Violin, and a newly-commissioned animated film, with music by Academy Award–winning composer Anne Dudley. Stinson’s subsequent 2017 book, Dance with the Violin, illustrated by Dušan Petričić, offers a glimpse into one of Bell’s competition experiences at age 12. Bell debuted The Man with the Violin Festival at the Kennedy Center in 2017, and, in March 2019, presented a Man with the Violin family concert with the Seattle Symphony.
Bell 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. In 2014, Bell mentored and performed alongside National YoungArts Foundation string musicians in an HBO Family Documentary special, Joshua Bell: A YoungArts Masterclass. Bell received the 2019 Glashütte Original MusicFestivalAward, presented in conjunction with the Dresden Music Festival, for his commitment to arts education.
Born in Bloomington, Indiana, Bell began the violin at age four, and at age twelve, began studies with his mentor, Josef Gingold. At age 14, Bell debuted with Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and made his Carnegie Hall debut at age 17 with the St. Louis Symphony. At age 18, Bell signed with his first label, London Decca, and received the Avery Fisher Career Grant. In the years following, Bell has been named 2010 “Instrumentalist of the Year” by Musical America, a 2007 “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum, nominated for six GRAMMY® awards, and received the 2007 Avery Fisher Prize. He also received the 2003 Indiana Governor’s Arts Award and a Distinguished Alumni Service Award in 1991 from the Jacobs School of Music. In 2000, he was named an “Indiana Living Legend.”
Bell has performed for three American presidents and the sitting justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. He participated in President Barack Obama’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities’ first cultural mission to Cuba, joining Cuban and American musicians on a 2017 Emmy-nominated Live from Lincoln Center PBS special, “Joshua Bell: Seasons of Cuba,” celebrating renewed cultural diplomacy between Cuba and the United States.
Bell performs on the 1713 Huberman Stradivarius violin.