Violinist Joshua Bell performs in Grass Valley, speaks to small group of students |

Violinist Joshua Bell performs in Grass Valley, speaks to small group of students

The violin, a Stradivarius from 1713, rested in the crook of Joshua Bell’s arm.

Valued at $15 million, the instrument sat silent as Bell spoke Sunday afternoon to a group of students. He gripped the violin’s bow, worth some $250,000, in his other hand. The small group, gathered to hear him speak before his concert, murmured at the price.

“I could have a couple of Ferrari cars, but I choose to have this bow,” Bell quipped.

In less than an hour Bell would step onto the stage of the Grass Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church. The concert, part of InConcert Sierra’s Third Sunday season, was sold out. People lined the pews to hear the virtuoso whose tour will take him this month to Carnegie Hall.

Amanda Lostritto, a 23-year-old violin performance graduate, said Bell’s passion for his music drew her to the event. She was one of about 20 people who met with Bell before his concert.

“All that history culminates in the violin and makes that incredible sound,” she said. “The violin sounds like the human voice.”

Jozi Gullickson, 15, called the chance to meet Bell “amazing.”

“I never thought I’d get the opportunity to meet him,” she said.

A resident of New York City, Bell travels the world to give performances. His music has appeared in numerous movies, including “The Red Violin” — a film that focuses on how one violin’s almost supernatural qualities affect several people across the centuries.

“It has sort of a soul,” Bell said of the violin. “There are violins that feel like they have a soul to them.”

Bell told the students how obtaining his current Stradivarius paralleled that movie.

He was performing in London in 2001 when he discovered the violin. Stolen in 1936, the violin re-appeared 50 years later. It traveled to London, making its way to Bell’s hands during his stop at the violin shop.

He knew he had to have it.

“I used it that night at the Royal Albert Hall,” he said.

Bell advised the music students to follow their passions, and emphasized the importance of a good teacher. Playing music is like acting, he said. Musicians shouldn’t play notes by rote, just as actors shouldn’t merely recite lines.

“There’s something about violins,” he said. “It’s like a living thing you have this relationship with.”

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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