Violinist Nicola Benedetti has captivated audiences and critics alike with her musicality and poise. Hilary Finch wrote in The Times, “it was thrilling to hear and watch Nicola Benedetti in a truly risk-taking performance that lived so much in the body and fused the sinews of the violin and the nerve-system of the player.” This sums up Nicola’s ability to communicate and enthrall audiences with dynamic and energy-filled performances. And whilst she is a highly sought performer on the world platform, Nicola is also fiercely dedicated to music education. Through her work with such organisations as Sistema Scotland, she has helped to demonstrate the power that music can have in transforming the lives of young people.
Nicola’s 2011/2012 season was framed by two performances with the London Symphony Orchestra; the first at the Enescu Festival in Bucharest and the second under the baton of Maestro Valery Gergiev at the Edinburgh International Festival. Nicola also completes her season with three appearances at the BBC Proms, the final of which is at the Last Night of the Proms.
Other 2011/2012 highlights included performances with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Zurich Chamber, Cincinnati Symphony, Detroit Symphony and Hallé orchestras. She performed Brahms’ Double Concerto for Violin and Cello with Leonard Elschenbroich and the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Christoph Eschenbach and participated in a highly publicised New York Philharmonic performance in Central Park with conductor Alan Gilbert. Nicola also performed a series of four recitals at LSO St Luke’s in London for the BBC. She made her Concertgebouw debut with the Mantova Chamber Orchestra and performed multiple times with the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and on a multi-city tour of the UK with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. She also made her Chicago Symphony debut at the Ravinia Festival on the Brahms Double with Leonard Elschenbroich, and conductor Christoph Eschenbach. She also embarked on a tour of South America that takes her to major concert halls in Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo and Lima.
Future highlights of the 2012/2013 season include a tour with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, as well as performances with the Netherlands Radio, Winterthur, Danish Radio, MDR Leipzig Symphony, Singapore Symphony and Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestras. In the US Nicola will work with the Indianapolis and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras while in the UK performing with the City of Birmingham and BBC Symphony Orchestras.
In recent seasons, Nicola has performed multiple times with the Philharmonia, Royal Scottish National, Royal Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony and Czech Philharmonic orchestras as well as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and City of Birmingham Symphony orchestras. She has also worked with the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin, Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony, Orchestre Philharmonique de Montpellier, Russian National Orchestra, Het Brabants Orkest, KBS Symphony and Japan Philharmonic, as well as the Dallas, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Indianapolis, Toronto and Vancouver symphony orchestras and the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. Nicola’s busy schedule has seen her work with conductors such as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Jakub Hrusa, Louis Langrée, Alan Gilbert, Stéphane Denève, Andrew Litton, Sir Neville Marriner, Kristjan Jarvi, Paavo Järvi, Mikhail Pletnev, Donald Runnicles, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Mario Venzago, Diego Matheuz, Pinchas Zukerman and Jaap van Zweden.
Nicola made her debut at the Proms in 2010, and has performed at the Tivoli Festival in Copenhagen and the Echternach Festival in Luxembourg and was a featured artist at the Istanbul Festival in 2011. She has given recitals in London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hong Kong, Paris, New York, Boston, Washington D.C. and Sacile. In July 2011, Nicola made her South American debut with the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, Diego Matheuz conducting, and during her week-long visit, she taught numerous masterclasses with the revolutionary El Sistema program.
Nicola performs in chamber music concerts with her regular trio, both in the UK and further afield. Along with cellist Leonard Elschenbroich and pianist Alexei Grynyuk, she has performed at LSO St Luke’s, Istanbul Festival, Schloss Elmau and West Cork Chamber Music Festival, and in the summer they will perform at the Ravinia Festival. Nicola has also played chamber music at the Verbier Festival, the Moritzburg Festival, the Tuscan Sun Festival in Cortona with Jean Yves Thibaudet, at Lockenhaus and at Prussia Cove.
Throughout her career, Nicola’s desire to perform a broad variety of repertoire and reach a wide audience has shown her to be one of Britain’s most innovative and creative young violinists. Nicola’s choice of the Szymanowski Violin Concerto for the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2004 was just the beginning of her focus on less-often programmed repertoire. She has recorded newly commissioned works by John Tavener and James Macmillan, worked on jazz-influenced repertoire with Wynton Marsalis and others, and explored authentic baroque performance, her studies of which have culminated in the release of her first recording on the Decca Classics label in 2011/2012; a disc of baroque violin masterpieces by Vivaldi, Tartini and Veracini, entitled ‘Italia’.
Nicola is also widely respected for her commitment to working with young people. Since 2005, she has visited schools throughout the United Kingdom in conjunction with the CLIC Sargent Practice-a-thon, in which she encourages pupils of all ages to pick up their instruments and enjoy classical music. In 2010, she became involved in El Sistema Scotland’s Big Noise project, a music initiative partnered with Venezuela’s El Sistema (Fundación Musical Simón Bolívar). As a Board Member and the programme’s official musical “Big Sister”, Nicola makes regular visits to Raploch, Scotland to conduct masterclasses and work closely with the children.
Winner of the Classical BRIT Award for Young British Classic Performer in 2008, Nicola has previously released five CDs with Universal/Deutsche Grammophon, the latest of which featured Tchaikovsky and Bruch concerti with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Jakub Hrusa. Nicola’s debut album included Szymanowski, Saint-Saëns, Massenet and Brahms with the London Symphony Orchestra, followed by a second release featuring works by Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schubert and Macmillan with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Nicola’s third album, recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, was comprised of newly commissioned works by Tavener as well as Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending. Her fourth disc featured works by Sarasate, Fauré, Rachmaninov, Pärt and Ravel.
Born in Scotland of Italian heritage, Nicola began violin lessons at the age of five. In 1997, she entered the Yehudi Menuhin School, where she studied with Natasha Boyarskaya. After leaving the Yehudi Menuhin School, she continued her studies with Maciej Rakowski and then Pavel Vernikov, and continues to work with multiple acclaimed teachers and performers.
Nicola plays the Gariel Stradivarius (c. 1717), courtesy of Jonathan Moulds.