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Violinist Joshua Bell On Music, Technology

Marc Holm
Violinist Joshua Bell

Violinist Joshua Bell is going to be playing one of his favorite violin sonatas Tuesday March 24th in Clearwater with pianist Sam Haywood at the Capitol Theatre .   

The first Sonata in G, Opus 78, by Johannes Brahms really has a place in his heart. "It's the most lyrical piece I know. It doesn't have an ending that brings the house down, but every time I play it or hear it, I almost have tears just about to come out of my eyes, because it's just so beautiful and there's nothing like it," Bell said.

But don't go looking for him to cry at his own concert. He said he's more apt to become emotional when listening, rather than playing the music.

Bell's three sons are also playing music now. His five-year-old twins and seven-year-old play the cello, piano and violin. Bell said there is some talent there, and "it's fun to see." But he believes every child should study music, regardless of whether they make a career of it. "It should be in the schools," he said, not as an after-school elective.

Bell is involved with an organization called Education Through Music, which brings programs to inner-city schools to kids who have no music at all. "Music has a beautiful way of bringing people together and learning how to give and take and how to share, you couldn't come up with a better tool than music, to teach people that," Bell said, " and everyone loves music."

And while he has been called a "classical musician," he says it's not a title that suits him. He's been involved in films, and music projects far outside the realm of the genre. "You know classical musician is a strange term for someone who plays music that spans basically four-hundred years...I just think of myself as a musician and I love playing music from other genres, at least my classical take on it. I will never be a jazz violinist or bluegrass violinist, but I enjoy sort of having my take on that genre of music," he said.

Bell loves technology and has participated in Google+ hangouts, and has even performed concerts at home and broadcast them on the internet. He said he's "keeping his eye out for new technologies and new ways to bring music to people." 

As for those who say classical music is dying, Bell strongly disagrees. "It's so relevant, so we don't need to take Beethoven's 250-year-old music and update it, add a drumbeat, do this or that to make it relevant, but we can be more current in the way we present it and not bury our heads in the sand when it comes to technology."

I love telling stories about my home state. And I hope they will help you in some way and maybe even lift your spirits.