I’m a day behind and a dollar short, as they say. But here’s the reason:
About 20 years ago, when my son was 18, we went on a “date” to a concert for his birthday and had so much fun that we decided to make it a tradition as often as we could. In the intervening years he has achieved a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, married, and had 5 children. We haven’t always been able to make that “date” happen. Sometimes we heard bluegrass music, sometimes jazz, sometimes folk, sometimes classical.This year, we were determined to make time for mom and son. Danny sent me links to five or six concerts he was interested in. I got tickets for us.
Last night we heard Joshua Bell and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields perform at the Strathmore in Rockville, MD. If I knew the words that could convey the beauty of the performance, I would use them. I promise I would. But there really aren’t words that I know that go that wide and deep.
The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (don’t you just love that name?) is a chamber orchestra, and traditionally they play without a conductor. The principal violin is the leader as he/she plays. It takes a great deal of listening, practice, knowing each other, and reading body language for such an ensemble to be successful. They were beyond successful. Every shade of dynamic; every nuance of phrasing; every motif passed from violin to clarinet to flute to cello was seamlessly elegant. I’ve never heard a live performance with such precision and attention to making every phrase lovely. Joshua Bell is young, but so musically mature. He plays a Stradivarius that is more than 300 years old. Hearing Mozart on a violin that was made during his era was magical.
A sweet bonus to the evening was finding that there is a picture book of the time Joshua Bell played his Stradivarius in the Metro in Washington DC (true story). It tells of a child who wanted to stop and listen, but was disappointed when the adults kept rushing by and didn’t stop. There are many lessons, comparable to close reading, in this sweet story.
Also, if you love Bach, Joshua Bell has just released a new CD that is all Bach. A bit of heaven. I’m so glad I could spend the evening with my son.