Joshua Bell and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

Date and Venue 17 April 2009 @ 8pm | Orpheum Theatre

Conductor Bramwell Tovey Featured performer Joshua Bell, violin

Reviewer Michael Pink

To see a musical prodigy is no ordinary event. Joshua Bell, who performed at the Orpheum Theatre on April 17th was astounding audiences at the young age of 14 with his violin mastery and in the ensuing years has only increased the momentum of his talent.

When Bell first bounded onto the stage, with his irrepressible energy, one could be forgiven for a slight feeling of disbelief that someone so preppy looking and youthful is actually a world renowned violinist.Yet any misconceptions are quickly dispelled by a performance and energy that is simply remarkable.

Playing with a 1713 Gibson ex-Huberman Stradivarius, Bell creates sounds of purity and precision that delighted the audience throughout the evening performance. Also of interest is the intense musical physicality that emerges when Bell plays the violin. At times it seems as if his entire body moves and lilts with the music.

Bell is clearly a tour de force in the violin world. He is the recipient of the Avery Fisher prize, plays internationally to acclaim and also finds time to serve as a faculty member at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. His concert debut came at the age of 14 with Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Reaching the pinnacle of performance, he performed at Carnegie Hall before the age of thirty. Certainly an unlikely musical projectory for a boy raised on a farm near Bloomington, Indiana.

The Bell performance featured the LALO symphonie espagnole for violin and Orchestra, Op. 21. The following works were also performed: Allegro non troppo; Scherzando: Allegro molto; Intermezzo: Allegro non troppo; Andante; and Rondo: Allegro.

The accomplished Bramwell Tovey, a Grammy and Juno award winner, conducted with his usual flawless mastery of the orchestra. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is perhaps overshadowed by some of the more notable orchestras in the world capitals yet the VSO is, in its own right, a truly distinguished and high calibre treasure in Canada’s musical landscape.

The evening concluded with several standing ovations, bringing a shy smile of appreciation to the boyish superstar from Bloomington.

© 2009 Michael Pink