Joshua Bell, the violin prodigy who grew into what some call a classical-music rock star, has taken the helm of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Bell is the orchestra's first music director since Sir Neville Marriner, who created the group.
On his first tour with the group as both music director and conductor, Bell plays the violin while conducting the orchestra simultaneously, gesturing with his bow. And he leads from the concert master's chair, rather than the podium, which seems unusual to some audiences.
But the ASMF orchestra "really knows how to read those sorts of cues," he tells NPR's Neal Conan. In fact, Bell says, Marriner originally led the orchestra from the violin, too.
"So this orchestra, their roots come from being directed from the chair," he says. "Not with a stick."