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Posted at 5:00 PM ET, 01/27/2011

Violinist Joshua Bell rewards snowy fans with impromptu performance

By The Reliable Source

Violinist Joshua Bell performs at the White House, 2009. (AP/Charles Dharapak)

The feel-good stories from Wednesday's snowstorm were few and far between, but a handful of lucky music lovers got a private performance by violinist Joshua Bell.

Dakota Korth, a program officer at the German Marshall Fund, bought fourth-row tickets (more that $100 each) to see Bell play at Strathmore Wednesday night. Korth checked Strathmore's Web site carefully as the storm developed, and was thrilled when it announced late in the day that the show would definitely go on.

Korth and friend headed up on the Metro and arrived about 30 minutes before the 8 p.m. concert. There were a few oddities: no lights on walkway, and the doorman at the entrance greeted them with a flashlight. But it wasn't until they checked their coats and went to get a drink that they heard the bad news: "I'm so sorry," the wine vendor told them. "The concert was canceled."

The official announcement came around 7:45 p.m.; most of the 300 presumably not-so-thrilled ticketholders who made it there turned around and left immediately.The problem? The power was out in the main hall, which apparently prevented Bell from playing for legal issues. (Strathmore was closed Thursday and unavailable for comment.) "People were sort of defeated, so there wasn't complete outrage," Korth told us.

He was retrieving his coat when he noticed a guy with a violin case over his shoulder. It was Bell, personally apologizing to the 35-40 people left in the lobby. "I'm really sorry," he said, "I wanted to play for you guys, but they won't let me." Bell said he was deeply touched that that so many people had braved the blizzard to hear him. As first reported by DCist, that's when an older woman piped up: "Can you play something for us here?" Bell laughed, but she was dead serious. "You played in the Metro, so you can play here, right?"

Bell took out his violin -- "Here's a little piece I sometimes do" -- and started in on his variations on "Yankee Doodle Dandy." The piece runs 8-10 minutes long; Korth started to record on his cellphone until one of Bell's handlers signaled him to stop filming. Bell finished playing and promised he'd return for a full concert.

Korth, who played violin as a child, said he's now a lifelong fan. "I liked him before, but now even more." It took another hour just to get home, but Korth said he really didn't mind. "It was a tolerable hour having the chance to stand five feet from where he was playing."

By The Reliable Source  | January 27, 2011; 5:00 PM ET
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a performer of classic music and a class act himself. Kudos to Mr. Bell.

Posted by: julcubdish | January 27, 2011 6:45 PM | Report abuse

a performer of classic music and a class act himself. Kudos to Mr. Bell.

Posted by: julcubdish | January 27, 2011 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Am sorry I missed this mini performance. I feel like wimp for not going in bad weather when he made the effort to attend and he's from out of town.

Posted by: michele79 | January 28, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

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