Performing Arts: Thrilled by Bell

by patrickmccoy

Violinist Joshua Bell lives up to the hype in his performance at Strathmore.

Joshua Bell and author Patrick D. McCoy (Photo by Chris Burch)

There is nothing worse than going to a performance and feeling disappointed after a lot of media hype. Listeners who attended the November 1 concert by Joshua Bell certainly did not have to worry about that. Presented by the Washington Performing Arts Society, the violin virtuoso performed a dynamic program of showpieces accompanied by pianist Sam Haywood.

WPAS president Neale Perl brought greetings on behalf of the organization and spoke fondly of Bell’s relationship with Washington, D. C. The concert hall at The Music Center Strathmore was bustling with excitement as eager fans awaited the arrival of the violinist on stage.

Looking relaxed in all black, Bell began his program of works by Schubert, Franck and Prokofiev. It was an evening of music that kept the attention of the audience from start to finish. Schubert’s “Rondo Brillant in B minor” immediately asserted the virtuoso’s renowned musical prowess, showcasing the precision and technical facility of his playing.  The beauty of the violin’s sound was particularly radiant in the long phrases of Franck’s “Violin Sonata in A Major.”

In contrast, his playing in Prokofiev’s “Sonata No. 2 in D Major, Op. 94” was of interest not so much for its tone quality, but for the charismatic nature that he brought to his performance. The pianist of the evening, Sam Haywood, was with Bell at every beat, providing an accompaniment that was sensitive, yet full of wonderful nuances. It was wonderful to not only see the collaboration between the two musicians, but feel it in the music. Following several rousing ovations, Bell delighted the audience with the “Melodie” by Tchaikovsky as an encore.

The violinist is profiled in this month’s issue of the Washington Life. You can also read a short interview with Bell here.

Petersburg, Va. native Patrick D. McCoy received a B.M. in vocal performance from Virginia State University and an M.M. in church music from the Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Va. He has contributed arts and culture pieces to CBS Washington, The Afro-American Newspaper and the newly published book, “In Spite of the Drawbacks” (Association of Black Women Historians), which includes his chapter on legendary soprano Leontyne Price. McCoy has interviewed some of the most acclaimed artists of our time, including Denyce Graves, Norman Scribner, Julian Wachner, Christine Brewer and Lawrence Brownlee. Listen to these interviews and others at Blog Talk Radio. McCoy may be reached via email at and on Twitter @PatrickDMcCoy.

Related Articles