Joshua Bell Faces Travel Hazards Ahead of Wharton Center

Feb 20, 2020

Monday night, superstar violinist Joshua Bell will be in East Lansing at the Wharton Center, bringing his London-based ensemble, The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and his four-million-dollar Stradivarius. It’s part of a nationwide tour the group embarked upon this week starting in Florida. WKAR’s Jamie Paisley caught up with Joshua Bell on his way to the airport at the start of this tour.


Jamie Paisley: It is rather, I think, appropriate that you're in a taxi, expecially calling East Lasning because it was kind of a legend here about 10 years ago...

Joshua Bell: Oh my God!

JP:... that you had a 12-hour taxi ride.

JB: Yes. That's right! That was a, quite a memorable day for me. Was it? I can't believe it's been a decade. Maybe it has. That day was, I was very unlucky with the weather coming somewhere in Ohio, and all the flights were cancelled and I jumped in a taxi to take me to a nearby airport in Cincinnati 2 hours away and we got there and that airport was shut down. And I basically asked the taxi driver 'Can you just keep going all the way to East Lansing?' and he said 'Sure!' and we drove 10 hours and arrived, I think 5 minutes before the concert was supposed to start. I even invited the taxi driver to come watch the concert, which he did, so that was kind of fun, but a crazy day.

JP: That was wintertime then, I mean, I assume you don't have enough taxis for the ensemble this time, though. 

JB: [Laugher] This time... although apparently I just heard that the orchestra flew yesterday from London, on their way to Florida, and they had to stop in Bermuda because of a fire that had started on board, because of a cell phone that fell behind some seats in the first class, and they had to all land in Bermuda. So, I hope - that was the last I heard - so I hope they made it to Florida. So hopefully the curse will be out of the way at the beginning of the trip so we'll be fine for Lansing.

[Music of Joshua Bell and the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields playing Bruch's Violin Concerto No.1]

JP: Joshua Bell, on the program this Monday at the Wharton Center with the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields, you have the Mozart Marriage of Figaro Overture, the Brahms 4th Symphony and the Paganini 1st Violin Concerto, but you have added your own mark to the showy solo bit of the Paganini, the cadenza.

JB: When I was younger, I played the crazy one written by [Emile] Sauret, 19th century violinist-composer. This time around, I thought well if I'm doing it again, this time I've gotta write my own cadenza, as I have for Brahms, Beethoven, and even Mendelssohn. So that was fun, which was something I did over Christmas. It'll be something that no one, and at this point, even myself, I haven't heard myself do it yet. So, yeah, that'll be my own personal take on the piece.

JP: So that’s making the Paganini your own, but how do you accomplish that in work like the Brahms 4th Symphony?

JB; It's always been one of my favorite pieces. It is a piece that is actually very susceptible to distortion and every conductor wanting to make their mark on it, sometimes to the detriment to the piece, which is so beautifully constructed. It's such a masterpiece. It's really making these decisions how you want tell the story that Brahms laid down on the page and everyone has their own take on it. But I have to say, this is a dream come true, No. 4. I don't think I ever imagined I'd get to do something like this.

[Music of Brahms Symphony No.4 with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields led by Sir Neville Marriner]

JP: Joshua Bell, the violinist and music director of the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields will be at the Wharton Center in East Lansing this Monday, February 24th. The Concert starts at 7:30pm. On the program, Le Nozze di Figaro Overture by Mozart, the Brahms 4th Symphony, and the Violin Concerto No.1 by Paganini where Bell will be bringing out his newly written cadenza. Joshua Bell, thanks very much for speaking with us.

JB: Oh well, thanks!

JP: For WKAR News, I'm Jamie Paisley

[Note: The Wharton Center is an underwriter of WKAR.]