Joshua Bell & Peter Dugan
(February 23, 2021 7:00pm)
He’s been seen driving a purple Porsche and he loves tennis, golf and the Indianapolis Colts. He looks like Paul McCartney’s younger brother and is a rarity, a classical music superstar. Violinist Joshua Bell is at the top of his game and he returns to The Lyric with pianist Peter Dugan.
Bell has performed for three American presidents and the sitting justices of the Supreme Court in a career that spans more than thirty years as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist, conductor and director. He has performed with virtually every major orchestra in the world and since 2011, has served as the musical director of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, succeeding Sir Neville Marriner, who founded the orchestra in 1959. In 2019-2020, Bell commemorated the Academy’s 60th anniversary season at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.
Born in Bloomington, Indiana, Bell had his first piano lesson at 4 and his first major recital at Indiana University at 12. Famed violinist and teacher Josef Gingold heard him play and became his teacher and mentor. Bell began attending Indiana University as a special student of Ringgold when he was 14, the year he made his debut with Ricardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Three years later, at 17, he made his Carnegie Hall debut with the St. Louis Symphony. He has paid homage to Gingold, whom he calls “his musical parent” by naming his oldest son Josef.
Bell has collaborated with artists and organizations across a multitude of genres and has performed with everyone from Chick Corea to Wynton Marsalis to Anoushka Shankar and Chris Botti. In spring 2019, he joined his longtime friends, cellist Steven Isserlis and pianist Jeremy Denk for a 10-city tour; the trio recorded Mendelssohn’s piano trios for release in 2020.
Bell has received an Avery Fisher Career Grant, and was named “Instrumentalist of the Year” in 2010 by Musical America. He has been nominated for five Grammy awards and received the 2007 Avery Fisher Prize. The Hoosier native was named an “Indiana Living Legend” in 2000 and participated in former president Barack Obama’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities’ first cultural mission to Cuba, joining Cuban and American musicians on a 2017 Live from Lincoln Center PBS special, Joshua Bell: Seasons of Cuba.
Bell is passionate about the importance of music education but not ready to put aside his 1713 Huberman Stradivarius violin and an 18th century François Tourte bow. Someday, he may enjoy teaching. “Being a teacher is like being a parent,” he said. “I had great parents and I wanted to have kids. The same was with my musical parent, Gingold. It was such a great association and I want to do the same. I plan to do more as I get older, but I feel like I’m still in peak physical shape for playing. When I studied with Gingold, he was 70.”
For now, Bell will continue his rigorous schedule. “I don’t remember starting to play the violin, like I don’t remember speaking for the first time,” he said. “It has become an extension of me and an outlet for creative and emotional relief. It’s human-sounding and can make you cry. It’s so personal and close to the human voice. It can do the human voice and more.”
Appearing with Joshua Bell is pianist Peter Dugan. Heard nationwide as the host of NPR’s beloved program, From the Top, he has appeared as a soloist, recitalist and chamber musician across North America and abroad.
Dugan holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Juilliard, where he is on the school’s piano faculty for the Evening Division. He prizes versatility as the key to the future of classical music, and is equally at home in classical, jazz and pop idioms. He has performed in duos and trios with artists ranging from Itzhak Perlman and Renee Fleming to Jesse Colin Young and Glenn Close. The Wall Street Journal described his collaboration with violinist Charles Yang as a “classical-meets-rockstar duo.” He has been presented in chamber musical recitals at Carnegie Hall, the Chamber Music Society of Palm Beach, Music at Menlo, the Moab Music Festival and in concert with Joshua Bell at the Minnesota Beethoven Festival.
Dugan’s debut performances with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony were described as “stunning” by the Los Angeles Times and “fearlessly athletic” by the San Francisco Chronical. He is an advocate for music in the community and is a founding creator of Operation Superpower, a superhero opera for children. He has traveled to dozens of schools in the New York area, performing for students and encouraging them to use their talents - their superpowers - for good.