Widely acknowledged as one of the world's premier classical violinists, Joshua Bell is a Grammy-winning artist with a penchant for bringing art into our everyday lives.
Bell's new album, At Home with Friends, sees the violinist team up with fellow musicians from around the world whom he's met on his travels. We got the chance to chat with Joshua to discover a bit about what his global sojourns have taught him.
LP: What have you learned about music from your travels, rather than from your training?
JB: Some of the greatest experiences I've had on the road come from when I've been in the Eastern European countries. I remember one evening in Budapest, Hungary, when I visited one of the restaurant-bars that feature live music. The violinists in these bars are some of the best violinists I've ever seen. One musician was playing traditional Gypsy violin. We traded instruments - he played on my Stradivarius and I played on his fiddle. It was great. These musicians improvise in a way you don't when you play classical music, and it's inspirational.
LP: What are your five favourite places to play music in the world?
JB: Carnegie Hall in New York City - it's really a cathedral of music. Vienna's Musikverein, one of the best music halls in the world. The Philharmonie in Berlin, home to possibly the world's greatest orchestra. The Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. South American audiences generally have incredible passion for music, and it's a pleasure to play for them. And finally, two venues in London: the Royal Albert Hall, and the smaller Wigmore Hall, because of the superb acoustics and the expertise of the audience - it attracts people who know classical music really well.
LP: Finally, if you could choose one musical performance to attend, rather than perform at, what would it be?
JB: It's a tough one, but I would pick the Vienna Philharmonic on New Year's Eve. It would be absolutely magical - especially going to the Christmas markets afterwards and drinking warm, spiced glühwein.
You can check out Joshua's new album (and stream it directly) at his website, www.joshuabell.com.