Directing a prestigious orchestra while maintaining a high-flying international career as a soloist is quite an undertaking. Leading them from first violin is no doddle either, especially if you’ve never studied conducting. But virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell didn’t hesitate when offered the role of Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in 2011.
Bell is the only person to hold the position since Sir Neville Marriner (who died in 2016 aged 92) founded the illustrious British chamber orchestra in 1958. “It’s really a dream for me, a dream come true,” he says, chatting affably on the phone from his New York apartment, “because, first of all, I’m not giving up playing my concertos with orchestras. When I’m with [the Academy] that’s exactly what I’m doing, but I have the added role now of directing them on the same programme.”
Virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell. Photo © Phil Knott
“I guess it’s more work, but it’s very satisfying musically. Artistically, it’s a whole new venture for me. I could get by going from one orchestra to another, playing my Tchaikovsky concerto. I could make a nice living...