Pacific Symphony logo

Press Release


Jean Oelrich
Director of Marketing & Communications
(714) 876-2380

Pacific Symphony Welcomes Violin Superstar Joshua Bell for a Stunning Performance of Sibelius' Technically Challenging and Musically Riveting Violin Concerto. Dvořák’s much-loved Symphony No. 9, “From the New World,” caps off the evening

Orange County, Calif. — August 31, 2017

Joshua Bell

Pacific Symphony 2017-18 season continues to soar with a very special evening starring the reigning virtuoso of the violin, Joshua Bell, who enjoys a superstar status rarely afforded a classical musician. Bell joins the orchestra, led by Music Director Carl St.Clair, for an extraordinary, one-night-only special event featuring the heart-stopping beauty of Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto, which in the hands of this beloved master is an experience not to be missed. The Boston Herald proclaimed that, “Joshua Bell is the greatest American violinist active today.”

Like no other violinist of recent times, Bell has captured the imaginations of both critics and audiences alike, and is certain to set the bar high for the Symphony’s season ahead. Rounding out the program is one of Dvořák’s best-known and most-loved works—Symphony No. 9, “From the New World.”

This special event takes place Saturday, Sept. 23, at 8 p.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Selling fast and sure to sell out, limited tickets are available at $49-$199. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit

“I’m really thankful that Josh Bell, one of the greatest violinists and a good friend of mine and Pacific Symphony, has made the time to come and share another exceptional evening with us,” says Maestro St.Clair. “I welcome and value every opportunity to perform with this great artist. He’s incredibly enlightening and musically rewarding for both orchestra and audience alike.”

Bell, who has a habit of showing up at the most special occasions, returns for his sixth performance with Pacific Symphony, most recently appearing with the orchestra in 2014 and in 2010 to celebrate Maestro St.Clair’s 25th and 20th anniversaries, when he captivated audiences with his remarkable technique and exquisite playing. As the featured soloist on the movie soundtrack for “The Red Violin” and James Newton Howard’s Academy-Award®- and Grammy®-nominated score for “Defiance,” Bell received a rave review from the composer John Corigliano during his acceptance speech upon receiving the Oscar for best film score for “The Red Violin”: “Joshua Bell plays like a god.”

For this concert, Bell performs Sibelius’ Violin Concerto, which takes full advantage of the instrument’s expressive range, from the rippling high chords to the growling alto notes. Sibelius wrote of his affinity for the violin in his diary: “The violin took me by storm and for the next 10 years it was my dearest wish, my overriding ambition, to become a great virtuoso.” Although he never made it as a virtuoso, starting at the late age of 14, Sibelius poured his passion for the instrument into his only concerto, which can be heard in every note.

Sibelius’ concerto stands as one of the most difficult and most recorded in the repertoire. With its wide variety of playing techniques and exploration of the breadth and depth of the instrument, it is a perfect vehicle to showcase Bell’s dazzling expertise.

Also on the program is Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, which artfully melds the rich folk melodies of America with classical techniques and represents both the triumph and tragedy the Czech composer saw in American music when he visited in 1892, as well as his music’s impact on Americans. The distinctively American sound in Dvořák’s famous Ninth is instantly recognizable. The subtitle for this symphony is “From the New World,” and not—as it’s often referred to—“The New World Symphony”; it was not exactly an “American” symphony, but rather a symphony “from the New World.” Dvorák was deeply inspired by American musical sources in composing it, but as a Czech nationalist and music educator, he believed strongly that composers should discover their own musical roots.

The symphony opens with a portentous adagio that gives way to a quick allegro, expressing the excitement of discovery and unknown frontiers. Drawing upon Indian songs and African-American spirituals, the piece manages to encapsulate the spirit of both traditions. The Czech composer’s propensity for sketching landscape in music is evident throughout and the musically illustrated “rocks, crags and rushing waters” are an evocation of the heroic landscapes by American artists such as Albert Bierstadt, known for his sweeping vistas of the West.

More about Joshua Bell: With a career spanning more than 30 years as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist and conductor, Bell is one of the most celebrated violinists today. Having received his first violin at age 4, Bell performed with Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra at 14, and made his Carnegie Hall debut at 17. His artistry is exemplified in his music directorship of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields (he is the only person to hold this post since Sir Neville Marriner formed the orchestra in 1958), and his release of more than 40 CDs since the age of 18, which have garnered Grammy, Mercury, Gramophone and Echo Klassik awards. He has collaborated with countless artists in and outside the classical arena and performed on television shows including the Grammy Awards, numerous “Live from Lincoln Center” specials, and on movie soundtracks.

Sony Classical just released “Joshua Bell—The Classical Collection,” a 14-CD set of classical repertoire that displays Bell’s unique range, versatility and breathtaking virtuosity. This year also saw the release of the illustrated children’s book “The Dance of the Violin,” recalling a seminal moment in Bell’s 12-year-old life when, after initially making a mistake at the Stulberg International String Competition, he is given a second chance. This marks Bell’s second appearance in a children’s book. The first was “The Man with the Violin,” retelling the story of Bell’s famous experiment in Washington, D.C.’s Metro station. A dedicated arts advocate, Bell is involved with Education Through Music and Turnaround Arts, a partnership between The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.