Nicola Benedetti to inspire new Scots musicians

The public will be able to watch some of the 'Benedetti Sessions' unfold at the City Halls in Glasgow. Picture: Wattie Cheung
The public will be able to watch some of the 'Benedetti Sessions' unfold at the City Halls in Glasgow. Picture: Wattie Cheung
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VIOLIN virtuoso Nicola Benedetti is to step up her acclaimed work in music education by taking time out of her schedule each year for a whole weekend aimed at inspiring new generations of young talent in Scotland.

Potential classical music stars of the future will get the chance to play alongside the Scots-Italian star, take part in intensive workshops and masterclasses, and quiz her on what it takes to made the grade at the highest level.

The Ayrshire-born musician, 25, is giving her time for free over three days in March to work with leading string musicians at the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

School parties, music groups and individual members of the public will be able to watch some of the “Benedetti Sessions” unfold at the City Halls in Glasgow, although auditions for participants will be held at the highest level.

The venture, being funded by arts agency Creative Scotland, is being run under the banner of Glasgow’s officials Unesco City of Music status. It will come in the midst of her most extensive ever Scottish tour.

The Benedetti Sessions will be the first such venture of its kind for the violinist, who famously won the BBC Young Musician of the Year award at the age of 16.

It has been personally instigated by Ms Benedetti, who said her music education work with groups such as Sistema Scotland had helped bring extra focus and drive to her career over the past year.

The Benedetti Sessions, funded to the tune of £11,000 by Creative Scotland and to be run from 22-24 March under the Glasgow Unesco City of Music banner, features a mix of open public events and those which will be held behind closed doors.

The violinist’s involvement with Sistema Scotland has already seen her give regular masterclasses to children involved with the acclaimed project in the Raploch estate, in Stirlingshire.

Under a recently-announced funding deal, a second “Big Noise Orchestra” project will be set up in Glasgow’s Govan area.

Ms Benedetti said the project was definitely not intended as a one-off and was actually being started off smaller in scale than she had initially envisaged, on the advice of the various project partners.

She said: “I want to do this every year and want it to expand. I see it probably being based in Scotland for a good number of years and expand in terms of the length of time and the number of people we would reach.

“This last six months I toured all over the world and did not visit one city where I did not do a masterclass or teach someone. This is just a case of making it larger scale, very public and shouting about it.

“I actually had a much bigger idea than this but was advised to be realistic. It is a great place to start and I am so excited about it.

“I was touring around the place, coming across one student here and one student there and I would be in a place I was not going return to for two or three years. You cannot keep a continuity with that child or student.

“Sistema Scotland was a chance to have that continuity and be consistent with my relationship with some young children. This is really an extension of that.”

Up to 60 string musicians will take part in the most intensive sessions over the weekend, with 150 as young as 14 getting the chance to play alongside Benedetti in a performance of the Intermezzo from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana. Potential participants must be at least grade four standard and pledge to practice intensely before the event.

An ensemble group from the conservatoire and NYOS will also be performing a separate piece, Bartok’s Divertimento, which she has selected to “challenge the players and encourage musical excellence.”

Ms Benedetti, who will appear “in conversation” over the weekend, added: “I want to use the position I have to not only pass on specifics about music and have an intensive musical experience with those young people, but also help highlight the good work of these organisations and what they need in future.

“The message is about being the best musician that you can be, being as individual and creative as you can be, and working as hard as you possibly can.”

Svend Brown, director of Glasgow Unesco City of Music, said: “Our core aim is to champion excellence and promote the participation in and enjoyment of music in Glasgow, especially within young people.

“The Benedetti Sessions truly embodies this ethos and is a fantastic opportunity for young musicians and the people of Glasgow and beyond to hear, learn from and perform with one of the nation’s finest musical talents.”