The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields has a new music director for the first time since Sir Neville Marriner. Big news! Read below:
London –Joshua Bell was today announced as Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, the first person to hold the title since Sir Neville Marriner who founded the Orchestra in 1958. With three weeks already in the diary for the 2011-12 season including an extensive US tour, Joshua Bell will double his time with the Orchestra over the course of his initial three year contract, as well as taking responsibility for the artistic direction of the Orchestra.
The recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize and named 2010 Instrumentalist of the Year by Musical America, Joshua Bell has recorded more than 36 CDs and garnered numerous awards including the Mercury, Grammy, Gramophone and Echo Klassik Awards. Joshua came to international prominence at the age of 14 when he made his orchestral debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall under the baton of Riccardo Muti. His breathtaking virtuosity and tone of rare beauty has continued to enchant audiences worldwide for more than two decades. He records exclusively for Sony Classical.
The Academy of St Martin in the Fields is one of the world’s most celebrated chamber orchestras. More than 50 years since its formation, the orchestra continues its relationship with founder Sir Neville Marriner, whose early concerts with the Ensemble were directed from the leader’s chair. More recently the Academy has developed a successful partnership with internationally renowned pianist Murray Perahia, who has been Principal Guest Conductor since 2000. The concept of the conductorless ensemble however has remained the guiding principle of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields’ artistic policy and, over the years, has been strengthened through Artistic Directors, Iona Brown and Kenneth Sillito. The orchestra also performs regularly with violinists Julia Fischer, Julian Rachlin, Janine Jansen and Anthony Marwood, with whom the ensemble has formed strong bonds.
Sir Neville, who in 2009 was given a ‘lifetime achievement’ award at the Grammy’s (and has just celebrated his 87th birthday), is delighted to retain his association with the Academy of which he is now Life President: “The Academy has been the core of my musical life and has given me considerable satisfaction. Since 1986, when Joshua first played with the Ensemble, I recognised in him a kindred spirit, and I am sure he will feel the same as I do about the Academy. His appointment is in tune with the founding principles of the Academy.”
Joshua’s appointment is a natural progression of the particularly warm relationship that he has with the musicians of the Academy and UK audiences: “I have felt a particular affection for the Academy of St Martin in the Fields ever since I made my very first concerto recording with them under the baton of Sir Neville Marriner when I was just 18 years old. Since then the orchestra has come to feel like family to me, as we have shared so many cherished moments together both musical and personal. Over the past several years I have begun to explore the great symphonic repertoire with the ASMF and I am thrilled that I will have the opportunity to continue this collaboration under the official title of Music Director.”
The appointment of a Music Director has been made possible financially by the three-year sponsorship from leading global technology company, Siemens. In response to news of the appointment, Andreas J. Goss, Chief Executive, Siemens plc and North West Europe, said: “Our sponsorship of the Academy of St Martin the Fields is an important partnership for Siemens. The Academy is one of the leading chamber orchestras in the world and has achieved its reputation with the pioneering leadership of Sir Neville Marriner. We believe that the appointment of the exceptional violinist, Joshua Bell, as Music Director, will strengthen this world-class position. We have enjoyed working with the Academy and look forward to continuing to support the orchestra as this exciting new chapter in their history unfolds.”
Anna Rowe, Chief Executive of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields said: “This is an extremely exciting appointment for the Orchestra. Joshua is an incredible musician and his work with the orchestra is truly inspirational. We are looking forward to developing the orchestra’s potential with Joshua as our Music Director.”