If there’s a classical recital in Tacoma you shouldn’t miss this year, it’s Joshua Bell. The international superstar violinist is coming to the Pantages Theater next Wednesday, thanks to the Tacoma Philharmonic, and playing an intimate Romantic-era recital of Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Isaye and Franck.
The Tacoma Philharmonic has been through a rough patch lately. Director Andy Wood resigned near the end of last season, leaving board members scrambling to find an alternative. Wood had done the booking, the management, the administration and the marketing for the non-profit, which has been offering Tacomans classical music for 77 years, beginning with an orchestra and eventually becoming a presenting organization.
After discussions with the Broadway Center’s director David Fischer, the Philharmonic agreed to a low-key partnership: The Broadway Center would handle ticketing, marketing and other administration, while the Philharmonic board would handle its own finances and plan its own season.
So far, so good. The 2011/12 season is chock-full of great artists in a few different venues from usual. The line-up includes three of the popular kids’ concerts led by the Seattle musical twins Lisa and Linda, of “Let Your Music Shine.” The five main-stage concerts include classical/Nashville double bass legend Edgar Meyer in April, jazz trio The Bad Plus taking on Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” in March, the Cypress string quartet with pianist Jon Nakamatsu in February and vocal ensemble Cantus in a December holiday concert.
But the spotlight has to fall on the Philharmonic’s season opening star pick: violinist Joshua Bell, playing Wednesday.
From a professional debut at 14 through an Avery Fisher career grant, a recording contract at 18, appearances on The Tonight Show and live PBS broadcasts, Grammy nominations for everything from contemporary commissions to crossover work with Edgar Meyer, and profiles ranging from The New York Times to People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People issue. He’s been called America’s “greatest living violinist” by the Boston Herald, and has truly earned the title.
On Wednesday night he’ll be playing violin sonatas by Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Isaye and Franck.