Joshua Bell is an award-winning, world-renowned violinist who visited the University of Miami’s Gusman Concert Hall to perform at the annual Festival Miami showcase on Oct. 4.
While most students were excited to be seated in the same auditorium as the bona fide musician, for freshman Elijah Kirkland-Andrews, the evening was a heartwarming reunion.
When Andrews was 5 years old, he played the violin for Bell at Montclair State University in New Jersey.
“I took lessons there, and somehow my teacher I think knew [Bell],” Andrews remembered. “I only played ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,’ because it was the only thing I could play at that point.”
Andrews believes it was either his teacher or mother who took the photo of Bell hugging the 5-year-old Andrews. Both were grinning.
“It was in 2000, and I don’t even remember if he played anything,” Andrews said. “I vaguely remember taking the photo, but I do remember putting on that silver clip tie because it was the first time I ever wore a tie.”
Over the next 13 years, Andrews continued taking violin lessons.
After all, Bell began taking lessons when he was 5 too.
“I never wanted to be a violinist,” Andrews said. “I wanted to be an astronaut, I had a phase when I wanted to be a stock broker, and then I wanted to be a basketball player. But really I didn’t take anything else seriously.”
After attending a music camp the summer before his sophomore year of high school, Andrews began pursuing the string instrument more intently.
He placed the crinkled photo of himself and Bell in his violin case for luck and inspiration.
In high school, Andrews was Georgia’s all-state best player in chorus and orchestra.
He played at Emory University’s youth orchestra with jazz and classical tunes as his focus.
Last spring, Andrews was accepted to the Frost School of Music.
And 13 years later at the Festival Miami showcase, Andrews, now 18, arranged to see Bell.
He showed his violin idol the photo, who laughed and recalled the evening.
“We only talked for two minutes about the picture,” Andrews said. “But he was shocked. It’s a small world.”
That night, Bell and Andrews took another photo that mimics the first.
Bell embraced Andrews who was almost two feet taller than the one in 2000.
But like the original, both Bell and Andrews are smiling.