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Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, WLRN has brought you the stories of how South Florida's arts organizations had to change the way they connected with their audiences during shutdowns. Now that the curtain has gone up once again at so many local venues, our reporting series called Second Act will cover the possible lasting impacts of those changes.If you've got a story for us, please send an email to talktous@wlrnnews.org with the words "Second Act" in the subject line.

'It's really a good time for Miami.' Violinist Joshua Bell on the city's classical music scene

Joshua Bell & Larisa Martinez, credit Shervin Lainez 3.jpeg
Shervin Lainez
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World renowned violinist Joshua Bell and his wife, soprano Larisa Martinez, will be performing together here in South Florida.

Violinist Joshua Bell returns to South Florida this week with the London-based Academy of St. Martin in the Fields orchestra.

South Florida classical music lovers are in for a treat. World-renowned violinist Joshua Bell and the London-based Academy of St. Martin in the Fields orchestra will be performing here starting this week.

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Along with performance dates at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami and the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, Bell's weeklong music residency in Miami will include side-by-side orchestral and chamber music workshops.

These offer a unique opportunity for some of South Florida's young aspiring musicians.

In conversation with Bell, WLRN asked him how he handled COVID shutdowns, his opinion about the state of classical music in South Florida and about his creative collaboration with his opera singer wife.

(Some of this conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.)

WLRN: We've spoken with many artists about how they handled COVID isolation. How did you deal with the great pandemic pause?

BELL: For artists and people who make their living from getting out there and being on stage and needing a live audience packed full of people, it was a difficult time for a lot of us.

But I think many of us found our silver linings during this time. I know certainly I did.

I've been going nonstop since I was 14 years old, so I haven't had a break in almost 40 years. And I suddenly found myself basically [taking] a year-long break from performing and traveling, which was a revelation for me.

I'd recently gotten married to Larisa Martinez, the soprano who's going to be performing with us.

We decided since we didn't have anyone else to make music with, we said, "Let's do some voice and violin things."

So we started exploring. We started commissioning new works for voice and violin and new arrangements of pieces that we always wanted to do.

WLRN: Miami is the largest American city without a full-time, professional symphony orchestra. What do you think it will take to change that?

BELL: You've got a lot going for you in Miami. And I think it's really a good time for Miami. And absolutely, there should be a full, professional orchestra.

It is a bit head-scratching that there isn't one. If you have the Miami Dolphins, you should have an orchestra equivalent [to the one] that we have in New York — the New York Philharmonic.

So I'm not the one to answer that question. But I think the pandemic has made us all appreciate live performing and the arts.

And hopefully it'll light a fire under the right people to get that going. Because certainly Miami should have that.

Joshua Bell's week-long music residency in Miami was created and produced by the Miami Chamber Music Society and co-presented by the Adrienne Arsht Center.

For more information about the workshops and Miami performance dates, please visit www.mainlymozart.com

For Kravis Center performance info, please visit www.kravis.org.