Joshua Bell Plays Westport

It’s one of the little things that make Westport special.

Frederic Chiu has known Joshua Bell since they were kids in Indiana. So when Chiu — an internationally renowned pianist — asked the universally acclaimed violinist to help celebrate the 5th anniversary of Beechwood Arts & Innovation, Chiu’s innovative, immersive arts-and-culinary salon, Bell’s answer was “of course!”

Which is how last night, Saugatuck Congregational Church hosted an intimate concert of world-class music.

Joshua Bell, on the Saugatuck Church stage.

Joshua Bell, on the Saugatuck Church stage.

Chiu and  his wife Jeanine Esposito hold most Beechwood events in their handsome 1806 Weston Road home (highlighted by a spectacular 300-year-old copper beach beech tree). But the Bell venue needed a somewhat bigger venue, and Saugatuck Church was happy to help.

Chiu and Bell (on his 1713 Stradivarius) performed Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” sonata and the rousing “Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs)” by Sarasate. They were joined by soprano Larisa Martinez for numbers by Gounod and Puccini. The appreciative audience roared its approval after every piece.

Before they played, WQXR’s Elliott Forrest led a conversation with Bell and Chiu. They talked about their long friendship, the rigors of touring — and the importance of arts education for all.

Bell pointed to the balcony, where a number of young musicians sat. Their seats were sponsored by area residents, whom the violinist praised for their generosity.

Westporters sometimes wonder whether we’ve lost a bit of our arts heritage.

Chiu’s appearance last night with his friend — and their stunning performance — proved we’re still at the top of our game.

12 responses to “Joshua Bell Plays Westport

  1. A.David Wunsch

    Wish I’d been there..
    adw staples 1956

  2. Holly Wheeler

    Would love to have heard this (and known about it).

  3. Joshua is a gift beyond words. The Arts are truly ‘alive and well’ in Westport when they are celebrated with the likes of this young man. He’s one of a rare breed; may God bless him with health, longevity and good people around him.

  4. I was there with my husband. We both agreed that this was one of those experiences that you never forget. The music making was … Unforgettable!

  5. Robert Mitchell


    Janine and Frederick are true gifts to Westport.

  6. Dennis Stahursky

    Wow, such talent. A Beechwood Event I get, a 300yr old Copper Beach tree, not. Sorry Dan, but I know you like to be correct. Keep up this great blog though!

  7. Lauren Schmidt

    Um Sarasate is actually a spanish composer, not the name of the piece. Did he perform Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy? or Zigeunerweisen?

  8. Thank you, Dan, for being there, and for letting people know about this special occasion!