Boston - For more than 25 years John Bell Young, a concert pianist, music critic and author, traveled the world, a suitcase in one hand and musical scores in the other. For several years he lived in Amsterdam, London, Paris and Moscow, where his concerts and studies had taken him. In 1978 he became the first American pianist to perform in China, and visited again in 2000 for a recital at the Concert Hall of the Forbidden City. As an adjudicator on the juries of international piano competitions, he awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to promising new talents.
In England he moved in a circle of musicians, actors and celebrities, among them Ava Gardner and Lord Montagu of Beaulieu. Back in the states, Hollywood came calling when Americus Records engaged him to produce and perform a CD with the celebrated actor, Michael York. Together they toured the United States and Europe in Richard Strauss’ rarely heard melodrama for narrator and piano, Enoch Arden. As a writer for a number of major publications, including the St Petersburg Times, the Boston Globe, American Record Guide, and Opera News he churned out hundreds of articles and reviews for more than a decade. Add to that the five books he penned for Amadeus Press between 2008 and 2010 and you have one very busy fellow.
But in July 2013 Young’s globe trotting lifestyle came to a sudden halt when he suffered a massive stroke. Paralyzed on his right side, he underwent a life-changing experience, one that he fully expected would render him homebound for the rest of his life. Months of physical therapy restored his ability to walk, but left him unable to play the piano.
“When in the space of a few moments the entire purpose of your life and everything that you’ve spent decades mastering suddenly vanishes, the aftermath is depressing, to put it mildly,” says Young. “But even so, if you love life, you learn to reinvent yourself and move on to the next adventure .”
To that end Young began to write again with the help of voice recognition software. He established Artistic Spirits Productions, which provides program and liner notes, biographies, press releases and grant proposals for other performing artists. Not stopping there, he offers his considerable experience as a free lance record producer and also as a consultant, advising performers about career and publicity strategies.
“Too often artists are not the best writers; while they can express what’s in their hearts beautifully in music, English is another matter!” says Young. “Even the most gifted musicians encounter huge challenges in an extremely competitive profession, and sometimes fail to present the most compelling dimensions of their personalities”
Although Young is already at work on a new book about Russian music to be published in 2015 by Rowman-Littlefield, his determination to help both burgeoning and established concert artists remains his priority. He offers his services free of charge of when and where he can to those just starting out or who cannot afford a publicist. “It’s immensely satisfying to watch a career blossom before your eyes,” he says. “If you do it for someone else, you can’t lose.”
For more information, visit www.artisticspiritsproductions.com
John Bell Young
John Bell Young