(Reuters) - American violin virtuoso Joshua Bell was named music director of the world-renowned Academy of St Martin in the Fields chamber orchestra on Friday, replacing Sir Neville Marriner, who founded it half a century ago.
"Joshua is very much the orchestra's choice," Marriner, 87, said at a press briefing announcing that Bell, exactly half his age, would take up the post in September as only the second music director since Marriner founded the ensemble in 1958.
"The orchestra has spoken and they want to work with Josh. They had a choice, so they obviously admire him," Marriner said.
One of my favorite performing groups, and I'm glad to see this move. I think one of their greatest strengths has been Sir Neville Marriners strong artistic influence over the group for over fifty years now. I hope this will usher in a new era for the group, not a passing fancy. Too many orchestras these days shuffle through conductors like fashion. I'm a strong believer in the benefits of focus and continuity in an ensemble. We'll see what the future holds.
Hopefully the best, because I love the recordings this ensemble produces. It would be a sad day if the end of Sir Neville Marriner's association with the group on a regular basis began to affect the ensemble's high quality.