Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Joshua Bell Experience: Take 2

Now the words to explain the photo.
Violin virtuoso and Indiana native Joshua Bell is officially on faculty here at IU this semester, and everyone has an opinion about it. His appointment isn't full time, but during his week here he was able to give a concert, some lessons and coachings, and dominate the IU campus.
Plus, I had a major meltdown totally unrelated to Joshua Bell beginning Monday night, but that's a story for another blog post. Let's just say I looked like hell the next day and half the music faculty has now seen an impression of it. My life is so bizzare.

Moving on.

So I'm walking down the hallway in the Music Annex (the MA, the Round Building) in search of a practice room, and as I approach Clouse's Lounge, I see the virtuoso himself talking with another student. I continue on my way, but am closely followed as he exits the building. Of course, people saw him walking through, and stopped and started, but me being in front of him, I felt like a celebrity.

Wednesday, the day of the concert, rolls around. He played Corigliano's "The Red Violin Concerto" based on music he wrote for the film The Red Violin, in which Bell played the solo violin part. Amazing movie, go and see it. Two of my housemates were in the orchestra for this concert, giving the inside scoop of what was going on with the music, the other players, and Bell himself. Although I won't disclose many details here, there are some very interesting happenings. However, I was told he really earned the respect of the orchestra and the other musicians. There's quite a few people who aren't big Bell fans for the reason, in my personal opinion, that he's a celebrity and has a "flashy" style of playing that is unique to him. I, for one, don't agree with this, and now neither do many IU students.

The performance was beautiful. I have Bell's recording of the concerto, but hearing it live was another experience. As with any live performance versus a recording, there are always things you hear in one that you don't in the other, and this wasn't an exception. In addition to this, seeing the concerto performed live made the piece all the more interesting and more beautiful. I've actually never seen Bell get that drawn into the music, and it was thrilling to watch. My seats weren't as good as last year, when I was in the second row. This time, I was in the second balcony. As an encore, he played one of the most challenging pieces of the movie score that isn't in the concerto; Pope's Concert, which makes Paganini look like nothing. Find the clip from the movie on YouTube (because I don't know how to post videos), and you'll see what I mean.

Afterwords, being the big dork that I am, I waited in the autograph-meet-and-greet line, which was surprisingly short, considering the 3000 people that attended the concert. This experience was much different than the last one, and if you wish to know details, please send me a message. Sound good? OK.

I ran into Bell a few more times during the week as I was going to class or practicing. My grandmother sent me an article about him that arrived the day of the concert that greatly improved my mood from my "meltdown" state. This quote particularly inspired me: "Don't worry about the occasional risk. You must be willing to take risks if you really want to live. 'Go for it', and the music will be much more meaningful."

I'm going to go for it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Deja vu?

Hmmm....haven't we seen this before?

More details later.