It is supposedly ‘classical week’ on the US TV talent show and it was kicked off last night by none other than the prodigious violinist, Joshua Bell.
Josh is no stranger to mass media, but many will feel this is a gig too far. Aside from an opening dance by the ‘opera singer’ Katherine Jenkins to what was billed as a “Game of Thrones” theme dance a Rumba to one of Katherine’s favourite tunes – the “Cannon in D” by Pachelbel, the rest of the show consisted of waltzes and tangos by such classical eminences as Lady Gaga.
So why does Josh offer to give trash television a gloss of classical credence with a short burst of Vivaldi? All the usual reasons, I suppose, and his advisers will have told him that national exposure never does anyone any harm.
Oh, yes it does. Josh is at the stage of mid-career when he is trying to impress us as a serious interpreter. Last year, he became music director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, an impeccably classical ensemble.
From today he will be most widely known as the curtain-raiser on a fame show, the warm-up act to Katherine Jenkins.
Those two aspirations are non-compatible. Something’s got to give.
UPDATE: The show also featured cameos by child star Jackie Evancho and tenor Vittorio Grigolo. Full report here.