Stories » Set for Academy of St Martin in the Fields tour, Joshua Bell credits his success to Jewish mother / The Jewish Chronicle

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Set for Academy of St Martin in the Fields tour, Joshua Bell credits his success to Jewish mother / The Jewish Chronicle

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Joshua Bell's debut recording in 1986 may have been prophetic. On it, the 18-year-old American violinist performed with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields conducted by Sir Neville Marriner. Today Bell has been music director of the self-same orchestra for six years - and has just signed up for three more. "I love this orchestra so much," Bell says. "I feel there's a special chemistry between us. Their attitude is amazing and they give so much in the concerts. As we travel together a lot, I spend time with them in a way that I don't if I'm a guest soloist. We were recently in Iceland and I was out with them in the middle of the night, trying to find the Northern Lights."

In January he and the ASMF undertake a seven-date UK tour, performing Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, Beethoven's Symphony No.2 and the world premiere of Edgar Meyer's Overture for Violin and Orchestra, written especially for Bell. It's a typical mingling of his roles as violin soloist, conductor and champion of new music and, he adds, "instead of leaving after a half-hour concerto for a post-concert cold beer, I'm involved in the whole two hours of the concert, which is so much more rewarding."

Bell, who grew up in Bloomington, Indiana, credits his Jewish mother ("in every sense!") with forming his crucial pattern of hard work and determination. "She's very strong willed," he smiles. "I think one reason a lot of successful musicians have been Jewish is that tradition of work ethic and involvement from the parents."

Bell and the Academy start their tour on January 12 at Cadogan Hall in London.

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