Young musician shares stage with violinist Benedetti

ONE of the Capital's rising musical stars has received an early career boost after performing alongside classical music star Nicola Benedetti.

Isla Ratcliff played a duet with the Scots-Italian violinist to a packed Usher Hall audience, with Benedetti praising her young apprentice's performance.

The 13-year-old Broughton High School pupil said she was thrilled to play alongside Benedetti, and even picked up a few tips along the way.

Isla said: "I've been on stage at concerts and played at the Usher Hall before, but it was nothing like this. We played Mrs Jamieson's Favourite, which Nicola said she chose because she had played it with Aly Bain, the famous fiddler.

"We practised once backstage and had two practice sessions with the piano. She came across as lovely and so talented. One thing I did notice about her is that she's very efficient with time, and practising. She showed me a few things but she was very encouraging. She was amazing to meet."

It was not the first time Isla has met her music idol. She first came across Nicola at a workshop several years ago and was dazzled by her performance.

Isla said: "The first time I saw her was at a Suzuki (Method] workshop in London and it was just after she had won musician of the year.

"She played a piece by Bizet and it was incredible. I think I have all her albums."

Miss Benedetti, who was performing as part of her Fantasie tour on Saturday, told the News: "It was a great pleasure for me to perform alongside Isla at the Usher Hall.

"I found her to be an enthusiastic, warmhearted young girl, and a promising musician full of dedication and seriousness - such a joy for me to see in someone so young! I wish her the best of luck, and hope to hear her play again in the near future."

Isla's teacher Tudor Morris, director of the City of Edinburgh Music School at Broughton High, who was approached to provide one of his students for the concert, said Isla is a "great ambassador" for the school.

Saturday night was not the first time that Isla hit the high notes with an incredible feat.

Two years ago she used her talent to put notes in an Ethiopian street children's charity pot by busking her way across Europe - while cycling the continent with her charity worker mum Cathy and writer father Andy Wightman.

Isla, a fluent Russian speaker, played in Moscow, Paris, Berlin and Helsinki, at the age of just 11 to raise 2500 after seeing first hand the poverty youngsters her age suffered while living in the African state for two years.

Isla, who also plays piano, added that if she does become a professional musician she would like to return to Russia to play - but in Moscow's grand theatres, rather than its streets this time.