Violinist Joshua Bell performs in Sarasota

Will lead the Academy of St. Martin in the Field in Bach, Beethoven works

March 13, 2014 

Joshua Bell has been the artistic director of the Academy of St. Martin in the Field for three years. PUBLICITY PHOTO

You don't need to follow classical music to know Joshua Bell. All you need is a Facebook account.

Seven years ago, Bell, perhaps the world's greatest violinist, busked in a Washington subway station, playing some of the finest and most difficult classical music compositions ever written on a $1 million violin. A few people dropped a buck or two in his Stradivarius case but almost no one paid any attention.

A few days before, Bell had filled a huge concert hall in Boston, where people paid big money to hear him.

The video of Bell's subway stunt went viral, and still makes the rounds on social media.

Chances are you'll never see an artist of Bell's caliber playing on a Bradenton-area street corner. But you can see him perform Friday at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota.

He'll be leading the Academy of St. Martin in the Field, the famed British chamber orchestra. Bell was named the orchestra's artistic director three years ago.

The program includes Bach's "Violin Concerto No. 2 in E major," Beethoven's First Symphony, and Saint-Saens' "Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso."

By the way, Bell's take from that experiment in the subway station was $32 for 45 minutes of performing. Twenty dollars came from the one person who recognized him.

Details: 8 p.m. Friday, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $75-85 Information: 941-953-3368,

-- Marty Clear

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