Editor of The Strad Emma Baker introduces the delights contained in the April 2024 issue

4_Front Cover 1080x720

As well as being one of the world’s most celebrated violinists for more than three decades, Joshua Bell has since 2011 been the music director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields (ASMF), a post that is very dear to his heart, as he tells Pauline Harding on page 24. This April he and the ASMF are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Neville Marriner, the much-loved British conductor who founded the London-based orchestra back in 1959. Bell speaks warmly about his relationship with the musicians of the ASMF, his love of conducting, and also about his upcoming Paganini recording.

Another anniversary that falls this April is 20 years since the death of Russian-born cellist and teacher Boris Pergamenschikow. He taught a whole generation of leading cellists including Nicolas Altstaedt, Claudio Bohórquez, Alban Gerhardt and Amit Peled. On page 44, these and other former students share their memories of this generous artist with Oskar Falta.

Ask most classically trained musicians to improvise and more often that not the reaction will be one of fear. It’s no longer a part of traditional Western classical training but, like any skill, it can be acquired with practice, given the opportunity. Christina Åstrand, first concertmaster of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, and composer Signe Lykke have attempted to redress the balance by creating a violin concerto that incorporates many elements of improvisation. On page 32 they speak to Andrew Mellor about how they developed the project, and the new artistic freedom it has given some of the young players involved so far.

In lutherie this issue, on page 36 Gennady Filimonov tells the story of German bow maker Richard Otto Gläsel. This brilliant craftsman, trained in the Parisian school, was also a skilled copyist, but eventually fell victim to the economic depression in Germany between the two world wars. We also take a look at cello bridges on page 50: can redesigning their shape enhance the way an instrument responds and sounds? And in Trade Secrets on page 58 luthier Evan Davenport shares his method for creating a purfling fleur-de-lys design on the back of a double bass.

Emma Baker editor

Email me at thestrad@thestrad.com or tweet @TheStradMag