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Jacobs School of Music

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Last modified: Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jacobs School of Music faculty member Josh Bell named 'Instrumentalist of the Year'

Nov. 11, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Jacobs School of Music faculty member Joshua Bell -- today's most celebrated American violinist -- has been honored as the 2010 Instrumentalist of the Year by Musical America.

Last week, just days after a concert at the IU Auditorium honoring the memory of Bell's mentor, the legendary pedagogue Josef Gingold, Bell traveled to Washington, D.C., to take part in a day of classical music at the White House, Nov. 4. Wearing jeans and a button-down shirt, Bell worked with young musicians at the White House during First Lady Michelle Obama's new White House Music Series, performing for an audience that included President and First Lady Obama.

A winner of multiple Grammy Awards and Emmy Award nominations, Bell appeared as himself alongside Meryl Streep in the 1999 film Music of the Heart. His recently released CD, At Home with Friends (Sony Classical), contains duets with Jacobs alumnus Chris Botti, Sting, Josh Groban, Kristin Chenoweth, Regina Spektor, Chris Thile and several other well-known performers.

"The old-school Romantic warmth of his tone and lyrical interpretive style, coupled with a rare catholicity of music interests, have received particular praise," wrote Musical America in a news release about this year's honorees.

Bell began studying the violin at the age of 8 at the Jacobs School of Music's Pre-College program under the director of Jacobs Professor Mimi Zweig, and later with Gingold, receiving an artist diploma in Violin Performance from IU in 1989. He began his appointment as a senior lecturer at the Jacobs School in the String Department in 2008-2009. Through two residencies each academic year, he coaches ensembles, works with students individually and in groups and participates in performances, among other activities.

Musical America was founded by John C. Freund in 1898 as a weekly newspaper covering drama, music and the arts. The prestigious publication's current directory format began in 1960, when the tradition of choosing a musician of the year was instituted. Awards for Instrumentalist, Conductor, Composer and Vocalist of the Year were first given in 1992; Ensemble of the Year was added in 1995.

The awards honor "artistic excellence and achievement in the arts." The 2010 awards will be presented in a special ceremony at Lincoln Center Dec. 14. Bell will be honored alongside Musician of the Year Riccardo Muti, music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Composer of the Year Louis Andriessen, who is recognized internationally as the most influential composer in Holland; Vocalist of the Year Elina Garanca, a mezzo who will play Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera this year; and Collaborative Pianist of the Year Warren Jones, who has performed with Kathleen Battle, Samuel Ramey and Stephanie Blythe, among others.

Bell will perform this weekend (Nov. 13-14) in Indianapolis with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.