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Alain Barker
IU Jacobs School of Music

Linda Cajigas
IU Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Monday, January 14, 2008

Violinist Joshua Bell returns to Bloomington to perform with pianist Jeremy Denk

Jan. 14, 2008

NOTE TO EDITORS: The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music will have a live video-stream of the Joshua Bell/Jeremy Denk concert for the IU community. For more information about the video-steam, visit

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Three-time Grammy Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell and acclaimed pianist Jeremy Denk, two of classical music's brightest stars, with common student and faculty ties to the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, will perform a recital together at IU's Musical Arts Center on Feb. 10 at 4 p.m.

Elsewhere on their tour (which includes the capital's Kennedy Center and New York's Carnegie Hall), concertgoers can expect to pay premium prices, but this performance will be free due to Bell's recent acceptance of a faculty position at the IU Jacobs School. (All faculty performances, aside from benefits, are usually offered at no charge to the community).

This will be their first performance together in Bloomington and Bell's first local concert as an incoming IU faculty member.

The evening's repertoire will feature Sergei Prokofiev's Sonata in F Minor, Op. 80, a dark and haunting piece that took the composer nearly eight years to complete; Antonin Dvorak's Four Romantic Pieces, Op. 75, characterized by their elegant melodies and leisurely development; and Camille Saint-Saëns's Sonata in D Minor, Op. 75, a favorite among virtuoso performers for its dramatic opening and powerful forward momentum.

Together Bell and Denk produce music of "terrible intensity and light-footed grace," according to Bernard Holland of The New York Times. They have been performing together since 2004, when they were paired at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S. C.

Jeremy Denk

Jeremy Denk

"We played one piece together at a gala, and that was that. We've been touring a month out of the year ever since," Denk said. "We have a great time. I think we do have some sort of musical chemistry going on."

"Finding a collaborator where you can sort of guess where the person is going and read his mind a little bit -- it feels right," Bell said. "I think we share certain basic values of how we think about music. Maybe that's because we both went to IU."

A recently released CD through Sony Classical, includes John Corigliano's Sonata for Violin and Piano performed by the duo. Bell and Denk will soon be recording a selection of sonatas they have played together on tour, Bell said.

"Jeremy is great in the studio because his energy level keeps me excited," he said. "It's one thing to play in front of an audience, but it can be hard to do the same thing for an empty room without someone who can inspire you."

"We sort of work intuitively -- it's not laborious," Denk said. "We each listen to what the other has to say musically and gradually find a common ground."

Ticket Information

Tickets are free, but must be reserved in person through the Musical Arts Center box office. Starting Thursday, Jan. 17, patrons may visit the box office during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. There will be a limit of four tickets per person.

Out-of-town patrons may request tickets by phone (812-855-7433 during MAC Box Office hours). Tickets will be held at Will Call and must be picked up before 3:30 p.m. on the day of the performance.

Patrons must be in their seats by 3:45 p.m., at which time any stand-by patrons will be allowed to take open seats. Stand-by tickets will be offered on the day of performance. Any space in the hall after 3:45 will be offered to those with stand-by tickets.

There will be two plasma screen monitors in the MAC lobby to accommodate the anticipated overflow.

About Joshua Bell

Born in Bloomington, Ind., Bell began playing the violin at age 4 after his parents noticed him plucking tunes on rubber bands he had stretched around the handles of his dresser drawers. By age 14, he had appeared as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra. After graduating two years early from Bloomington North High School, Bell attended Indiana University to continue his violin studies with the legendary Josef Gingold.

Having just turned 40, Bell has already performed with the world's top orchestras and conductors, as well as a diverse range of popular artists, including Josh Groban, Bobby McFerrin, James Taylor and Sting.

In addition to his Grammy Awards, Bell has earned a Mercury Music Prize and Germany's Echo Klassik and has performed solos on two Oscar-winning movie scores. Last year, he received the esteemed Avery Fisher Prize, given every few years to a classical musician of outstanding caliber.

Bell plays the famed Gibson Stradivarius, a nearly 300-year-old violin known for its resemblance to the human voice. Washington Post writer Gene Weingarten described Bell's mastery with the instrument: "In this musician's masterly hands, it sobbed and laughed and sang -- ecstatic, sorrowful, importuning, adoring, flirtatious, castigating, playful, romancing, merry, triumphal, sumptuous."

"Mr. Bell doesn't stand in anyone's shadow," noted David Mermelstein of the New York Times.

About Jeremy Denk

An alumnus and past faculty member of the IU Jacobs School of Music, Jeremy Denk has appeared as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the St. Louis Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and many others. He has an extensive discography, which includes the Tobias Picker Second Piano Concerto with the Moscow Philarmonic; works of Schubert, Bartok and Strauss with violinist Soovin Kim; and the Kirchner Duo with violinist Ida Levin. He will soon release his first solo disc, which features a number of Bach partitas.

He earned a master's degree in music from IU as a pupil of György Sebök, and a doctorate in piano performance from the Juilliard School, where he worked with Herbert Stessin.

Described by The New York Times as "bracing, effortlessly virtuosic and utterly joyous," Denk's skills have earned him a coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant, awarded annually to outstanding solo instrumentalists.

His repertoire ranges from 18th- and 19th-century standards to modern works crafted with him in mind, such as Alternating Current by Kevin Puts.

Denk shares his musical and extramusical musings with the public through his blog, Think Denk. The blog's self-description -- "the glamorous life and thoughts of a concert pianist" -- is intended to be tongue-in-cheek, as the posts veer toward the Food Network and the flu as often as Bach and Beethoven.

Anything and everything is fair game for Think Denk, as Bell discovered when he came across an epic entry Denk composed about him and cellist Steven Isserlist.

"He wrote a long poem about us trying to decide what to eat for lunch. He turned it into this magnum opus of a poem," he said.

"I meet a lot of people who came to the concert because of the blog," Denk said. "I think it communicates something about classical music that maybe they didn't realize or couldn't appreciate in the concert situation."

Visit Denk's blog online at

About the Jacobs School of Music

The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music is universally acclaimed as one of the finest, if not the finest, schools of music in the world. It currently has more than 1,600 students who come from all 50 states and 55 countries, and 170 full-time and 23 part-time faculty members, including performers, scholars, composers, dancers and teachers of international renown. Its students choose from 35 degree programs and participate in more than 1,100 public performances each year, including seven full operas, three ballets and choral, band and orchestral concerts.

For more information, contact the IU Jacobs School of Music at