Thoughts on playing classical violin in the subway

Posted on: October 16, 2014

“For Joshua Bell, classical music is often about context,” writes John Jurgensen in Tuesday’s (10/14) Wall Street Journal. “He recently performed at a busy transit hub in Washington D.C., playing Bach and Mendelssohn for about 1,000 people in Union Station. It was a much different scene from 2007 [when] only a handful stopped to listen…. ‘Some people refer to it as the time I played in the subway and nobody recognized me,’ Bell says. ‘But it wasn’t an ego thing. It played out exactly as I expected it would. I was not surprised that most people walked by and didn’t listen because that’s not the way it works with music, particularly with classical music…. It doesn’t work to throw it at people while they’re rushing on their commute. It made me appreciate that I so often have a nice captive audience…. Just by announcing it and having people ready to listen, you saw the difference. It was actually pretty electric, with a lot of people packed in.” Bell also speaks about the HBO show Joshua Bell: A YoungArts Masterclass, which aired on Tuesday, as well as playing for the President, working with young musicians, and the future of classical music.

Posted October 16, 2014