More than a pretty face

Joshua Bell to perform twice this week in Steamboat Springs

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Among classical musicians, Joshua Bell is treated like a rock star. Reviewers fixate on his looks and the gossipy details of his life in a way usually reserved for the likes of Mick Jagger and Iggy Pop.

The Grammy Award-winning violinist is the first classical artist to have a music video aired on VH1, was named one of the "50 Most Beautiful People in the World" in 2000 by People Magazine and was listed by Glamour magazine in "Six It Men of the Millennium." The articles focused on his boyish face and his relationship status. USA Weekend began a concert review with the words, "Hot, young and single."

¤ Strings in the Mountains: Joshua Bell recital followed by champagne reception ¤ 7 p.m. Monday ¤ Music Festival Park ¤ $50/ $65 preferred seating ¤ 879-5056 ¤ Strings in the Mountains: "Joshua Bell: An Evening in Vienna" ¤ 7 p.m. Wednesday ¤ Music Festival Park ¤ $30 ¤ 879-5056

Rarely do people talk about the music.

Which is unfortunate, said Betse Grassby, executive director of Strings in the Mountains. "He's an incredible musician. He's such a great violinist -- his tone and his rapport with the audience. I saw him on the PBS special ("Live From Lincoln Center: Joshua Bell at the Penthouse") and I was mesmerized. He is very charismatic."

Bell is best known among mainstream audiences for his solo violin music for the movie "The Red Violin."

Bell will perform twice in Steamboat Springs this week. His first appearance will be Monday night in a recital with pianist Frederic Chiu. Monday night's concert is a fund-raiser to benefit the Strings Endowment Fund.

"Josh Bell usually performs in large concert halls for 3,000 people," Grassby said. "This is a chance to see him in an 80-foot tent. It's unusual to get to see him in such an intimate setting."

On Wednesday, Bell will play a chamber music concert featuring Brahm's Horn Trio and Beethoven's Septet with "the greatest players in the country," Grassby said.

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