The Scotsman Sessions #272: Hebba Benyaghla

Welcome to the award-winning Scotsman Sessions. With performing arts activity curtailed, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on scotsman.com, with introductions from our critics. Here, Glaswegian pianist Hebba Benyaghla performs Two Lines by Edward Nesbit

Imagine you’ve been learning the piano since the age of four, netted a major scholarship and first class degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and are about to complete a masters programme, only to find that the world has come to a stop due to Covid.

“No, it wasn’t the best-timed entry into the music profession,” admits Hebba Benyaghla, who had just completed one of her first major professional gigs with Scottish Opera Orchestra in the company’s production of John Adams’ Nixon in China when the pandemic hit. That she was also about to perform Messiaen’s awesome Quartet for the End of Time in her final masters recital now seems spookily portentous – she later completed the course via video.

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But the pandemic hasn’t stopped her pursuing her dream: "If anything, the past 18 months have reinforced my thoughts that working as a musician today requires a broad and flexible approach,” says the 25-year-old Glaswegian. As an accompanist she has worked with the National Youth Choirs of Scotland and RSNO Chorus.

Hebba Benyaghla

More recently, performance opportunities have begun to reopen, and in June Benyaghla was in London participating with the cream of young British musicians in the 2020/21 London Sinfonietta Academy, a competitive programme available to emerging young players, who perform as a contemporary music ensemble coached by the Sinfonietta’s key principals.

She also went solo in the Sinfonietta’s World Premiere Wednesday series, playing Edward Nesbit’s freakily hypnotic Two Lines, commissioned in 2017 by the Sinfonietta, which she introduces and performs for this Scotsman Session.

Soon it’s back to London again, where Benyaghla is one of this year’s selected Associate members on the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s prestigious Foyle Future Firsts, a year-long development initiative for top talent on the cusp of a performance career. Maybe now the timing is right.

For more on Hebba Benyaghla, visit www.hebbabenyaghla.com

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