While many child actors become better known in their later years for their criminal records or battles with drug addiction (take, for example, the entire cast of Diff'rent Strokes), classical music prodigies tend to make the transition into adulthood more successfully. American violinist Joshua Bell began his meteoric rise to stardom at 14, when he made his orchestral debut with Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra. That auspicious appearance was soon followed by Bell's debut at Carnegie Hall, an Avery Fisher Hall career grant, and an exclusive recording contract. Now a mature 31, the dedicated and dynamic musician continues to impress and inspire with his artistic acuity and his passionate, poetic playing. Last year, Bell released his Gershwin Fantasy album and participated in numerous concerts honoring the composer's 100th birthday. He also served as artistic adviser, body double, and solo performer for Francois Girard's film The Red Violin, which featured a score by John Corigliano, and debuted Corigliano's Red Violin Chaconne with both the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Keenly interested in modern music as well as a variety of musical genres, Bell inaugurated an acclaimed series of chamber music concerts at London's Wigmore Hall, performing works written for him by contemporary classical composers Nicholas Maw and Aaron Jay Kernis. Bell's most recent project, organized with bassist and composer Edgar Meyer, was a quartet featuring legendary bluegrass musicians Sam Bush and Mike Marshall. The collaboration, an unusual fusion of classical and bluegrass styles, is featured on Short Trip Home, Bell's latest CD, which was released by Sony earlier this fall. For his three concerts with the San Francisco Symphony, Bell will perform Saint-Saëns' Violin Concerto No. 3.
Joshua Bell performs Wednesday, Nov. 24, Friday, Nov. 26, and Saturday, Nov. 27, at Davies Symphony Hall, 301 Van Ness (at Grove), S.F. Tickets are $12-76; call 864-6000.