Joshua Bell Violinist
With a career spanning over 30 years as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist, conductor and director, Joshua Bell is one of the most celebrated violinists of his era. Since 2011, Bell has served as Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, succeeding Sir Neville Marriner, who formed the orchestra in 1958. Bell’s interests range from the repertoire’s hallmarks to commissioned works, including Nicholas Maw’s Violin Concerto, for which Bell received a Grammy award. He has also premiered works of John Corigliano, Edgar Meyer, Jay Greenberg, and Behzad Ranjbaran.
Committed to expanding classical music’s social and cultural impact, Bell has collaborated with peers including Chick Corea, Wynton Marsalis, Chris Botti, Anoushka Shankar, Frankie Moreno, Josh Groban, and Sting. In Spring 2019, Bell joined his longtime friends, cellist Steven Isserlis and pianist Jeremy Denk, for a 10-city American trio tour.
Bell maintains an avid interest in film music, commemorating the 20th anniversary of The Red Violin (1998) in 2018-19. The film’s Academy-Award winning soundtrack features Bell as soloist; in 2018, Bell brought the film with live orchestra to various summer festivals and the New York Philharmonic. In addition to six Live From Lincoln Center specials, Bell is also featured on a PBS Great Performances episode, “Joshua Bell: West Side Story in Central Park.”
Through music and technology, Bell further seeks to expand the boundaries of his instrument. He has partnered with Embertone on the Joshua Bell Virtual Violin, a sampler created for producers, engineers, and composers. Bell also collaborated with Sony on the Joshua Bell VR experience.
An exclusive Sony Classical artist, Bell has recorded over 40 albums garnering Grammy, Mercury, Gramophone and ECHO Klassik awards. Sony Classical’s June 2018 release, with Bell and the Academy, features Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy and G Minor Violin Concerto.
In 2007, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post story, on Bell performing incognito in a Washington, D.C. metro station, sparked a conversation regarding artistic reception and context. It inspired Kathy Stinson’s 2013 children’s book, The Man With The Violin, and a newly-commissioned animated film. Bell debuted the 2017 Man With The Violin festival at the Kennedy Center, and, in March 2019, presents a Man With The Violin festival and family concert with the Seattle Symphony.
Bell advocates for music as an essential educational tool. He 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.
Born in Bloomington, Indiana, Bell began the violin at age four, and at age 10, began studies with Josef Gingold. At age 14, Bell debuted with Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and debuted at Carnegie Hall at age 17 with the St. Louis Symphony. Bell received the 2007 Avery Fisher Prize and has recently been named Musical America’s 2010 “Instrumentalist of the Year” and an “Indiana Living Legend.” He received the 2003 Indiana Governor's Arts Award and a 1991 Distinguished Alumni Service Award from his alma mater, the Jacobs School of Music.
Bell performs on the 1713 Huberman Stradivarius violin, with a François Tourte 18th-Century bow.
Connie Shih Pianist
The Canadian pianist, Connie Shih, is repeatedly considered to be one of Canada’s most outstanding artists. In 1993 she was awarded the Sylva Gelber Award for most outstanding classical artist under age 30. At the age of nine, she made her orchestral debut with Mendelssohn's first Piano Concerto with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. At the age of 12, she was the youngest ever protégé of Gyorgy Sebok, and then continued her studies at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia with Claude Frank, himself a protégé of Arthur Schnabel. Later studies were undertaken with Fou Tsong in Europe.
As soloist, she has appeared extensively with orchestras throughout Canada, the U.S.A. and Europe. In a solo recital setting, she has made countless appearances in Canada, the U.S., Iceland, England, Spain, Italy, Germany, Japan and China. Connie has given chamber music performances with many world-renowned musicians. To critical acclaim, she appears regularly in recital with cellist Steven Isserlis. Including chamber music appearances at the Wigmore and Carnegie Halls, she performs at the prestigious Bath Music Festival, Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, Weill Hall (N.Y.), and at the Kronberg Festival. Her collaborations have included Maxim Vengerov, Tabea Zimmerman and Isabelle Faust.
In 2019/20 Connie will tour North America and Europe with Steven Isserlis. In addition she appears at concert venues across Germany with the cellist Manuel Fischer-Dieskau with whom she recorded the first-ever CD of the Sonatas for piano and cello by Carl Reinecke and the complete Beethoven sonatas. Her CD with Steven Isserlis on the BIS label was recently released .
Connie's performances are frequently broadcast via television and radio on CBC (Canada), BBC (U.K.), SWR, NDR, and WDR (Germany) as well as on other various television and radio stations in North America and Europe.
She is on faculty at the Casalmaggiore Festival in Italy.