Release Date: January 30,2020

From D.C. subway to Akron: Joshua Bell and Academy of St. Martin in the Fields in concert Feb. 25

Akron, OH, Jan. 29, 2020 — One of the most celebrated classical musicians of our time, violinist Joshua Bell became even more famous after a subway experiment in 2007. More about that later.

On Feb. 25 he is coming to Akron with one of the world’s finest chamber orchestras.

Bell and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields will share the stage of Akron’s EJ Thomas Hall for a 7:30 p.m. concert presented by Tuesday Musical.

Their program will include Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 6, and Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98, with a first-movement ending that has been hailed as one of the greatest climaxes in classical music. 

Before the concert, audience members can learn about the Academy’s signature style of performing without a conductor during a Concert Conversation with the musicians. Moderated by Eric Kisch of WCLV-FM’s “Musical Passions” program, the Concert Conversation will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the hall.

Tickets start at $35 at tuesdaymusical.org and 330-761-3460.

Now, about the subway: Bell, already acclaimed in 2007, gained even greater fame through an experiment to determine if people would recognize exceptional talent in an incongruous context.

Wearing a t-shirt and ball cap, he walked into a Washington, D.C., subway station at rush hour, opened the case of his priceless Stradivarius, and played some of the most respected classical music ever written.

A hidden video camera documented what happened and Washington Post writer Gene Weingarten described it in his Pulitzer-winning feature Pearls Before Breakfast.

“In the three-quarters of an hour that Joshua Bell played, seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run — for a total of $32 and change,” wrote Weingarten.

“That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look.”

Bell himself was a bit baffled, observed Weingarten. “Watching the video weeks later, Bell finds himself mystified by one thing only. He understands why he’s not drawing a crowd, in the rush of a morning workday. But: ‘I’m surprised at the number of people who don’t pay attention at all, as if I’m invisible. Because, you know what? I’m makin’ a lot of noise!’”

Today, Bell is renowned as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist, conductor and director. Music director of the Academy since 2011, he is the only person to hold the post since Sir Neville Marriner formed the orchestra in 1958.

Drawn from leading London musicians, the Academy gave its first performance in its namesake church in 1959. Always performing without a conductor and through a vast recording output — highlights of which include the 1969 best-seller Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and the soundtrack to the Oscar-winning film Amadeus — the Academy has earned an international reputation for its interpretations of the world’s greatest orchestral music.

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Support for this concert and related education/community engagement activities comes from Gertrude F. Orr Trust Advised Fund of Akron Community Foundation, Peg’s Foundation, GAR Foundation, Knight Foundation, Kulas Foundation, and other foundations, corporations and individuals. Support also comes from the Arts Midwest Touring Fund, a program of Arts Midwest that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts with additional contributions from the Ohio Arts Council and the Crane Group.