"I shut my eyes a lot when I play," he says. "It helps to block out distractions. I think aurally. And so when I shut my eyes, I can concentrate on the other instruments in the orchestra; I just have a better aural image of everything onstage."

But the next time you see Bell work with that serene expression settling over his features, his body bending and feinting amid the phrases, don't think that because his eyes are closed that he doesn't see very, very clearly what's going on.

"The most difficult thing," he says, "would be to feel like you have a talent and aren't being recognized or given an opportunity. Luckily, I haven't really been there. I've seen it with other people, and can imagine if it were like that.
"Me, I've been very fortunate."

josh bell on cd
here's a quick look at several of bell's cds, listed from accessible to more challenging, in case you're not sure which you might like.

romance of the violin (2003). bell plays with the academy of st. martin in the fields, michael stern conducting. among the most accessible classical releases in years, this cd was still leading all classical-music sales at barnes&noble.com soon after its release last fall. one of the reasons you'll keep saying, "i know that tune," track after track, is that bell went outside the violin repertoire for this collection of hauntingly beautiful works. this cd is for lovers, for students of music, and for anyone who simply loves the great melodies of europe and wants to hear them interpreted by a master. download fans: this cd is available (entire album or individual tracks) from itunes and napster.