Los Angeles Music Preview: ACADEMY OF ST MARTIN IN THE FIELDS WITH JOSHUA BELL, VIOLIN (Valley Performing Arts Center)

Post image for Los Angeles Music Preview: ACADEMY OF ST MARTIN IN THE FIELDS WITH JOSHUA BELL, VIOLIN (Valley Performing Arts Center)

by Tony Frankel on February 26, 2016

in Theater-Los Angeles


Many know that Academy of St Martin in the Fields is a touring and recording chamber orchestra founded by Sir Neville Marriner in 1958. But did you know that since 2011 the world-renowned virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell has been their Music Director? Next to Marriner, who turns 92 in April, Bell is only the second person to hold the title in the orchestra’s history. While Bell still performs with different orchestras around the world, his tone of rare and rich beauty will be heard with the Academy on Wednesday, March 9 at 8:00 at the Valley Performing Arts Center in Northridge.

Joshua Bell with Academy of St Martin in the Fields.

Having witnessed the Royal Philharmonic, St. Martin, and others at VPAC, I can confirm that the acoustics easily rival those of Disney Hall. The sound will blow you away. The hall is gorgeous as well. So not only are you guaranteed to be treated to a sophisticated concertgoing experience, you get a superb chamber orchestra and one of the greatest living violinists playing his 300-year-old Gibson ex Huberman Stradivarius violin (made in Stradivari’s “Golden Era”). Along with Bell’s spirited rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major — an event in itself — the program includes the second movement of Schumann’s Violin Concerto (codetta by Britten), Prokofiev’s jewel box of a symphony, the Classical, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 in F major. This is NOT a concert you consider–your attendance is mandatory. Ticket sales are off the chart, so move fast.

Academy of St Martin in the Fields - POSTER

With over 500 recordings to date, the Academy is one of the most recorded chamber orchestras in the world. Four years before Bell became Music Director, he recorded Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with the orchestra, a recording which reached No.1 on the Billboard Classical Chart; coincidentally, the Academy received its first gold disc for the recording of the same in 1969. The Academy is also known for its soundtrack recordings of both The English Patient and Amadeus, their best-selling recording which won 13 gold discs alone.

Joshua Bell with Academy of St Martin in the Fields

I became familiarized with many classical works due to its recordings, which had on the label the hyphenated name “St. Martin-in-the-Fields” — the Academy was named after the Trafalgar Square church where the orchestra gave its first concert on November 13, 1959. The orchestra dropped the hyphens from its full name in 1988, but even hyphen-free it remains one of the finest chamber orchestras in the world, celebrated for its polished, sophisticated sound and outstanding musicianship. Originally directed from the leader’s chair by Marriner (who happened to be the first music director of our own Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra from 1969 to 1978), the spirit and flexibility of the conductorless ensemble remains an Academy tradition.

This is a trifecta of great programming, players, and venue which I can’t recommend highly enough.


Main lobbyAcademy of St. Martin in the Fields
with Joshua Bell, violin
PROKOFIEV: Classical Symphony, op.25 (Symphony No.1)
TCHAIKOVSKY: Violin Concerto, op.35, TH 59, D major
SCHUMANN: Violin Concerto, mv. II (codetta by Britten)
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No.8, op.93, F major
Valley Performing Arts Center
18111 Nordhoff Street in Northridge
Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at 8
for tickets, call 818.677.3000 or visit VPAC

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