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December 12, 2008 6:41 PM

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Joshua Bell Plays On

While Joshua Bell was overwhelmed by the number of fans who gathered on his birthday for the first concert to be held in his renovated triplex, he did add that this was his smallest audience ever, citing a concert with...

While Joshua Bell was overwhelmed by the number of fans who gathered on his birthday for the first concert to be held in his renovated triplex, he did add that this was his smallest audience ever, citing a concert with the New York Philharmonic in Central Park as the largest. Wednesday night's crowd might have been small, but originally 70 people were expected, and almost double that number gathered to celebrate the artist's 41st birthday, including the likes of Glenn Close; Renée Fleming, accompanied by Coty's Bernd Beetz, who does her fragrance; Moby; George Soros; Phil Ramone, and Adam Weinberg.

The concert kicked off the KiptonART Salon Series, which dates back to the popular salon concerts that were held in the 18th century. The KiptonART Music Series launched in July with concert pianist Lang Lang. The goal of the series is to break down classical music barriers, integrating the form into mainstream culture. Founder Kipton Cronkite has created a foundation to raise money for the arts.

Bell pointed to the surrounding artwork hanging on his walls of original autographs, photos and programs that corresponded to works he played, such as Maurice Ravel's "Gypsy" song and Leonard Bernstein's "Maria" and "Tonight" from "West Side Story," and explained his inspiration behind performing each piece. Before playing Jules Massenet's "Meditation" from the opera "Thais," Bell joked that he felt "a bit nervous" performing this in front of Fleming. "Maybe next time we can do something here together," he said.

After Bell's half-hour performance, Close introduced herself to Fleming and the two chatted at length, with a surprising degree of warmth; albeit, they are stars of different stages.  
Adding to the musical glamour quotient was Lang, who arrived after dinner to celebrate his friend's birthday.
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