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Tuesday, April 16
The Indiana Daily Student

arts iu auditorium

Joshua Bell, Academy of St Martin in the Fields orchestra captivate audience


Accompanied by his Academy of St Martin in the Fields orchestra, violinist Joshua Bell came onto the IU Auditorium stage just past 7:30 p.m., Tuesday night to share a beloved Bloomington story, which he travelled all the way from London to tell.  

“I normally don’t like to speak before I even play a note,” Bell said. “But I am incredibly happy to be in Bloomington.”  

Before Bell’s Grammy-award wins, his participation in former President Barack Obama’s Committe on the Arts and Humanities’ mission to Cuba and several international tours with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, the renowned violinist grew up and began playing music in Bloomington, Indiana. 

Bell had been working with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields since 1986, when he first recorded the Bruch and Mendelssohn concertos with previous music director and ASMF Founding President Sir Neville Marriner. The Academy of St Martin in the Fields was created in 1958 with the intention of bringing together the finest artists in London for a top-class chamber ensemble. Marinner passed down the music director wand to Joshua Bell in 2011, making him the only musician to hold the position since the acclaimed founder himself.  

Bell told a story of growing up in Bloomington in the 1970s, walking down the street and seeing the filming of the movie, “Breaking Away,” the story of four teenage boys training for Indiana University’s beloved Little 500 bike race. Bell explains that “Breaking Away” was the film which first introduced him to Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville Overture,” a song on the soundtrack, and Bell and the orchestra’s first performance of the evening.  

The orchestra playing under Bell’s direction included several other violinists and various musicians on viola, cello, bass, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba and timpani. Even with each member dressed in black, sitting alongside a plain stage set-up, the orchestra’s sound had no trouble captivating the audience throughout their performance. The musicians’ stage presence and body language proved itself just as fast and intentional as each note that was played.  

After the Overture, the orchestra played the work of Johannes Brahms: “Allegro non troppo,” “Adagio” and “Allegro giocoso; ma non troppo vivace,” followed by Joshua Bell original cadenzas. 

At the end of the Brahms performance, Bell bowed to the crowd, receiving a standing ovation, and he and the orchestra left the stage as the auditorium lights lifted for an intermission.  

The latter part of the captivating show featured the works of Robert Schumann: “Sostenuto assai; Allegro ma non troppo,” “Scherzo: Allegro vivace,” “Adagio espressivo” and “Allegro molto vivace.” Wrapping up around 9:30 p.m., Bell took a bow along with each orchestra member. Academy musicians hugged each other as the crowd applauded and cheered one final time.  

Tammy Brooks, an audience member local to Bloomington, said she has watched a variety of musical performances, but thought Bell’s show was incredible.  

“I love seeing Joshua Bell,” Brooks said. “Hearing him speak was really nice. I just thought it was wonderful. It was really good.”  

Brooks was sitting in the auditorium lobby after the show’s conclusion with friend and fellow audience member Angela Kelley.  

“I think Joshua Bell is just incredible,” Kelley said. “The amount of energy and passion he has is stunning.”  

Joshua Bell and the Academy of St Martin in the Field’s IU Auditorium show was one stop in their short American tour, which began March 17 in Naples, Florida. The tour will conclude April 7 with the academy’s performance at Davie’s Symphony Hall of San Francisco. 

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