By the mid-'90s, Bell had recorded much of the standard violin repertoire, exhibiting a musically informed and winning personal style. His playing is lyrical and bright, marked by a high-minded approach and a smooth, silvery tone. In the late '90s, Bell's eclectic tastes and multifaceted talents found voice in a wide range of projects outside the realm of the traditional violin repertoire. Bell's playing on John Corigliano
's score to The Red Violin (1998) was singled out as one of the film's more memorable elements, while in 1999 he collaborated on a well-received CD of bluegrass-influenced music by composer Edgar Meyer. Bell has been seen on numerous television programs and was even named one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People." He continues to work with musicians outside the classical realm, such as Chick Corea and James Taylor, meanwhile performing with the world's top orchestras and conductors. Other collaborations led to Bell's establishing chamber music recital series in both London and Paris. Artists such as Steven Isserlis
, Pamela Frank, Jean-Yves Thibaudet
are his partners in these recitals and in recordings.
In 2001, Bell sold his "Tom Taylor" Stradivarius violin and purchased the storied "Gibson ex Huberman" Strad, subject of the 2013 documentary, The Return of the Violin. He made a notable appearance in 2007, busking in one of Washington, DC's Metro stations as an aid to Washington Post writer Gene Weingarten. Weingarten won a Pulitzer Prize for the piece that examined art and context, and Bell's participation stirred conversations for years afterward.
While continuing his recital performances, teaching, and the ocassional film music recording, Bell took on a new challenge in 2011: music director of the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields