Why did Joshua Bell do it again?

Joshua Bell playing his violin at the L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station in Washington DC in 2007According to a Washington Post article last week:

1. He hoped it would get people to stop asking him about his first Metro station concert that he did as part of a social experiment.

I wonder if he’s been asked more often since the publication of The Man with the Violin which has attracted awards all over the States and has been recently nominated for two prestigious awards in Canada? If so, does he regret writing a Postscript for the book? I hope not. Not <everyone> knows who he is and some people will be introduced to his marvelous playing through that book

2. He doesn’t want the stunt to define him. 

I understand this. For a while it bothered me that people seemed to notice only one of the many books I’d written. But at least Red is Best showcased my ability to recognize a good children’s book idea when it came along and my ability to write what many refer to as ‘a classic’. Joshua’s virtuoso performances around the world over his thirty-or-so-year career are far more deserving of recognition than his Metro station concert in 2007.

3. He wanted to promote music education.

It’s true that Joshua Bell feels strongly about the importance of music education. He gave nine students he mentored through the National Young Arts Foundation the chance to perform with him last week. And he asked that Dusan Petricic and I contribute a share of royalties to supporting music education for young people. (We agreed, and Annick Press is contributing too.)

4. He wanted to promote his new album and an upcoming HBO special.

Probably. And why not? We artists all have to do what we can to promote our work, right?

The WP article didn’t mention another reason for the performance. Joshua Bell does clearly love to play his violin and — as this account of his encore Metro performance very much suggests — he loves engaging with his audiences too, especially the kids, who’d have wanted to stop even if they didn’t know who that “man with the violin” was.

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Kathy Stinson is the author of the classic Red Is Best and the award-winning The Man with the Violin. Her wide range of titles includes picture books, non-fiction, young adult fiction, historical fiction, horror, biography, series books, and short stories. She has met with her readers in every province and territory of Canada, in the United States, Britain, Liberia, and Korea. She lives in a small town in Ontario.

Kathy Stinson

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