Every generation creates its own superstars in classical music performance. At present, one of the most prominent of these is the violinist Joshua Bell. Born in Bloomington, Indiana, the site of one of the world’s great music schools (the Jacobs School of Indiana University), Bell was able to stay right at home. After beginning his studies at the age of 4, he began working with the great violinist and teacher Josef Gingold at 12. At 14 he made his debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Ricardo Muti, and at 17 he performed at Carnegie Hall with the St. Louis Symphony. Since then, Bell has recorded more than 40 CDs, including his Grammy-winning recording of the Violin Concerto by Nicholas Maw (who was formerly a teacher at Bard College).
Bell’s accomplishments and honors take pages to detail. Here are a few: Avery Fisher Career Grant; Musical America’s “Instrumentalist of the Year” in 2010; performing for three American presidents and the current sitting justices of the US Supreme Court; and performing on a 2017 Live from Lincoln Center PBS special with musicians from Cuba. Expanding his interest to conducting, in 2011 Bell became the second music director of the world-famous Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, succeeding its founder Neville Marriner.
In addition to the Maw Concerto, Bell has premiered concertos by John Corigliano and Edgar Meyer. Among his collaborators have been Renée Fleming, Chick Corea, Wynton Marsalis, Josh Groban and Sting. His next CD will be a recording made with Chinese instrumentalists: a follow-up to a 2018 CD with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra. Bell plays on a Stradivarius violin named for a previous owner, the legendary violinist Bronislaw Huberman.
Bell’s collaborator on his current tour, pianist Alessio Bax, is a noted soloist in his own right. Born in Bari, Italy in 1977, Bax graduated from the Bari Conservatory at the age of 14. He won the prestigious Leeds International Piano Competition in 2000, and performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s CMS 2 for two years. He has toured widely as soloist and with orchestra. His discography now includes seven CDs, including discs of Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Rachmaninov and the formidable Gyorgy Ligeti.
Joshua Bell and Alessio Bax will perform on Saturday, February 1 at the Bardavon 1869 Opera House in Poughkeepsie. The program includes major works of Schubert, Franck, Bach and Bloch, with hints that other composers may appear as encores. The concert is a benefit for the Hudson Valley Philharmonic.
Joshua Bell & Alessio Bax, Saturday, February 1, 8 p.m., $100 ($150 with reception), Bardavon 1869 Opera House, 35 Market Street, Poughkeepsie; (845) 473-2072, www.bardavon.org.