Nicola Benedetti poised to take a bow in classical debut at T in the Park

SHE will appear somewhere between The Original Rudeboys and Kasabian, but Nicola Benedetti says she will not compromise her classical background despite being “out of her comfort zone” when she plays T in the Park in front of 20,000 rock fans.

The 24-year-old violinist from West Kilbride will be the first classical musician to perform on the main stage at the high-profile music festival next weekend and said she is nervous at the prospect of playing her repertoire in front of a rock festival crowd.

“I’m very much looking forward to it, but it’s with a definite mix of apprehension and excitement,” said Benedetti, who is more used to playing to audiences in hushed concert halls. “I’m a little bit out of my comfort zone, but I’ve spent a long time deciding what to play so I’m feeling a bit more relaxed now.”

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The violinist, who this week will be awarded an honorary doctorate from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, is planning on wowing her alien audience at the Balado site with a mix of classical music pieces. In an interview with Scotland on Sunday, she said that despite the setting she would not be performing any pop or rock tunes when she takes to the main stage.

“The idea for me is not to try to fit into T in the Park too much,” she said. “It’s to bring classical music to T in the Park,” she said. “So that’s what I’m doing. I’m not playing anything that’s not strictly classical and I just hope that people can support me and be open to listening to something new.”

She added: “What I’ve tried to do was tap into what I think are the most effective points of classical music, so there’s Vivaldi, which has that fast-paced rhythmic quality, and there’s something that involves the sort of true, heart-wrenching heightened emotion you don’t get from modern-day music. There’s also a gypsy element, which is virtuoso violin playing, and I might throw in something Scottish too.”

Benedetti will be playing the £6.3 million Gariel Stradivarius violin on the T in Park stage. One of the top 30 violins in the world, it was constructed in 1717 by the legendary violin maker and loaned to her in March by the London-based banker Jonathan Moulds on the condition that she agreed to play it for him and his friends “a few times a year”.

“It’ll be kept in its case for everything other than the rehearsal and the performance,” she said. “I won’t be walking about in the mud with the Stradivarius.”

Other acts on the main stage at this year’s T in the Park include the Stone Roses, New Order, Snow Patrol, Florence and the Machine and Pete Doherty. Despite having never attended the festival, Benedetti said she hoped the audience would take to her playing.

“I’m trying not to have too many expectations formed about what the crowd will be like,” she said. “All I can do is focus on playing the best I can play and giving them a committed, high-quality performance.

“What you often find is that if more classical music was in front of people then they would love it. It’s not that people are resistant to it, it’s just that it’s not there. An environment like T in the Park can provide a great platform for the right type of classical music. It’s all about introducing people so they can go and find out a bit more.”

Benedetti, who is currently with the Diamond Jubilee tour, will embark on a trip to Japan, New Zealand and Australia later this year, as well as performing on stages across Europe and America. She said her touring schedule was so constant she had no idea when she would next get a day off. “I don’t really relax,” she said.