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Laurie Niles

Joshua Bell on Dancing with the Stars

May 1, 2012 at 3:50 PM

This morning I read our friend Norman Lebrecht's blog, Joshua Bell played last night on Dancing with the Stars. Why?

Dear Norman, why must there be a why?

I'm just not going to turn my nose up at it. For those of you who missed it (we'll see how long this stays up!):

How fun is that? It looks like a lark to me, and a pretty painless way for a person to make his next Strad payment. I think I even spy a few of my LA friends, being employed to play live music in the orchestra. A full-voice "Hooooraay!" for that!

I even kind of dig the people dancing around in period costumes. Why do we spend a cazillion hours in the practice room learning to play the fiddle, if we can't have a little fun now and then?

From Terez Mertes
Posted on May 1, 2012 at 4:51 PM
Yes, that was huge fun, and weird and wacky to see, but I'm all for it. Fun to watch on the heels of my own blog creation/discussion of classical music and dance and how the two synch so well for me. Granted, this was not the mental image I'd been entertaining, but hey, it'll work. I also, coincidentally, saw Josh perform the Beethoven VC and conduct the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields in an all-Beethoven night on Sun pm, and I was hugely impressed. So, I'm pretty pro-Josh at this moment.

And like you said, this was just fun. Just plain fun. Good exposure to the masses. (Love the way some of the audience members were trying to get into that "let's clap to the music!" groove, and it kept fizzling out, b/c, face it, on does not clap to Vivaldi.)

From Emily Hogstad
Posted on May 1, 2012 at 6:28 PM
Isn't this a fairly predictable Lebrecht response?
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on May 1, 2012 at 6:51 PM
I thought this was a very fun use of Vivaldi. I almost wish the dancing had been even more dramatic, it seemed a little tame next to what Bell was doing. I didn't get Lebrecht's point that doing this is incompatible with directing the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Why?
From Congwen Wang
Posted on May 1, 2012 at 8:38 PM
Looks like Mr. Lebrecht is taking this rather seriously:

Or perhaps he's taking himself too seriously? To me this post sounds rather defensive, and not very objective (is there objectivity in critiques, anyway?). I personally don't see why classical musicians can't go on popular TV shows; these days, there's no such a thing as too much exposure for classical music.

And I'm glad to be reminded that the Four Seasons is still a joy to listen to.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on May 1, 2012 at 9:36 PM
I like that Josh breaks barriers; and I rather think he marches to his own drum. Let's not forget, here is the guy who appeared on Sesame Street, who was a sport when the Washington Post asked him to do a busking experiment and who seems to play what he likes.
From Randy Walton
Posted on May 1, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Why did Bell play on DWTS? Because he could!!

I love classical music and enjoy watching the performer(s), irrespective of the venue. GO BELL!!

From Victor Andzulis
Posted on May 2, 2012 at 3:21 AM
I enjoyed Josh's performance, and I don't think he was compromising in any way to appear on the show. However, I did have a moment of concern over the dancers wearing period clothes. I realize it was in keeping with the time of Vivaldi, but I don't think the idea that classical music is old fashioned needs any encouragement in today's mind. Probably over analyzing on my part...just made me wonder if the outfits helped or hurt the case for classical music's relevance in today's culture.
From Terry Hsu
Posted on May 2, 2012 at 8:20 AM
I'd say this was overall positive for classical music. And I'm glad Josh Bell did it. It was sort of funny how Josh Bell playing Vivaldi seemed almost more contemporary than a bunch of good ballroom dancers in period costumes dancing a mostly contemporary genre. But that in the end, the audience loved both.
From Sander Marcus
Posted on May 2, 2012 at 3:38 PM
Perhaps the appropriate period costumes for dancing to Vivaldi should be nuns' habits, no?

But this does suggest some spin-off programs:
- "Dancing with the Russian School Violinists."
- "Playing down-bow spiccato with the stars."

Which suggests some other variations, such as "CSI (Concerto Solo Investigation) Vienna."

Just a thought.

From Kathryn Woodby
Posted on May 2, 2012 at 4:16 PM
haha sandy i like that last one :)
From Terez Mertes
Posted on May 2, 2012 at 4:35 PM
Sandy, LOL! : )
From Paul Deck
Posted on May 3, 2012 at 12:02 AM
I think it's good to have someone like Bell infiltrating popular culture. If some people think, "Who is he?" and look him up and listen to his music that would seem positive to me.
From Philip Novak
Posted on May 3, 2012 at 8:58 PM
When I was 12 I think if I had seen Bell shred Vivaldi like this I would have taken up violin instead of rock guitar. We didn't have orchestra at my high school, just band; seeing this would have made it accessible. I could have thought of it as something I could do as an individual. I always associated orchestra with rich kids, because that's who I saw playing it. Not farm kids like me. But I would have seen Bell and said to hell with the rich kids, I want to shred! Which was the whole point of rock guitar anyway. And to Normans point about Bell living two incongruous lives; I would argue that Bell is in fact exercising enormous interpretation in the DWTS thing; I think he made this music infinitely more accessible to people through it. Everything needs to be interpreted to a current epoch else it turns ossified and ineffective.
From Erica Thaler
Posted on May 4, 2012 at 11:44 AM
GREAT! So it's not a concert hall. So what? If millions of people get to see the intensity of classical violin and some great music, who can complain? Maybe a few will be inspired to see/hear/play more of it.
From John Pierce
Posted on May 6, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Mr Armstrong put it well: there are two kinds of music: good music and bad music.

Now to vote where on Andrew Lloyd Webber falls. :-)

From Eric Salazar
Posted on May 8, 2012 at 10:54 AM
I loved it as it was so entertaining and tastefully done specially the dancing. As an educator we all face a reality which is that children are not listening neither following classical music and and think we should praise and thank however was the mastermind behind this event. do you imagine how many children will be inspired to play violin or even more to dance and be curious to now more about Vivaldi!! MR. Norman needs to relax, sit back and enjoy the music.

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