Violinist Nicola Benedetti has captivated audiences and critics alike with her musicality and poise. Hilary Finch recently 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.’
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 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. 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 has in transforming the lives of young people.
In recent seasons, Nicola has performed with virtually all of the UK’s major orchestras, including the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Philharmonia, Royal Scottish National, Hallé, Royal Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, and City of Birmingham Symphony orchestras. Outside of the UK she has played with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Deutsche Symphony Orchestra in Berlin, Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich, Orchestre Philharmonique de Montpellier, Russian National Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, KBS Symphony, Simon Bolivar Symphony, and Japan Philharmonic, as well as the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Toronto Symphony, and Vancouver Symphony orchestras, as well as the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa.
Nicola’s busy schedule has seen her work with a number of conductors, such as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Stéphane Denève, Christoph Eschenbach, Valery Gergiev, Alan Gilbert, Jakub Hrusa, Louis Langrée, Andrew Litton, Jiří Bělohlávek, Sir Neville Marriner, Diego Matheuz, Kristjan Järvi, Paavo Järvi, Mikhail Pletnev, Donald Runnicles, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Mario Venzago, Pinchas Zukerman, and Jaap van Zweden.
Nicola’s 2012/13 season was immediately preceded by a performance at the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms, which featured her interpretation of Bruch’s Violin Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Jiří Bělohlávek. Other highlights of the season include a tour with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra with Miguel Harth-Bedoya, as well as appearances with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra with James Gaffigan, Royal Scottish National Orchestra with Peter Oundjian, Hong Kong Philharmonic with Jaap van Zweden, and Singapore Symphony with Neeme Järvi. She also returns to the Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Indianapolis symphony orchestras to play Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major.
Nicola frequently performs in recital and will make appearances this season at the Dresden Musikfestspiele, the Sapienza – University of Rome, and in Montreal at the Maison Symphonique. Previously, she has given recitals in London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hong Kong, Paris, Sacile, New York, Boston, and Washington D.C.
Nicola is also a devoted chamber musician and often gives concerts with her trio, both in the UK and further afield. Along with cellist Leonard Elschenbroich and pianist Alexei Grynyuk, she will undertake an extensive tour of Scotland in March 2013, which will include performances at the Edinburgh Usher Hall and Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Nicola and her trio have also performed at LSO St Luke’s, Istanbul Festival, Schloss Elmau, West Cork Chamber Music Festival, and at the Ravinia Festival. In addition, the trio embarked on a summer 2012 tour of South America, which included performances in Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo and Lima. Nicola has also played chamber music at the festivals of Verbier, Moritzburg, Lockenhaus, Prussia Cove, and Tuscan Sun in Cortona with Jean-Yves Thibaudet.
Winner of Best Female Artist at the 2012 Classic BRIT Awards, as well as the Young British Classic Performer Award in 2008, Nicola has released five CDs with Universal/Deutsche Grammophon. In 2011/12, she released her first recording on the Decca Classics label, a disc of baroque violin masterpieces, entitled Italia. Her most recent recording, The Silver Violin, was released in Autumn 2012 and features the Korngold Violin Concerto along with other cinematic-inspired pieces by Shostakovich, Korngold, Mahler, and others. Nicola’s debut Universal/Deutsche Grammophon 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 was comprised of newly commissioned works by Tavener and Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the fourth featured works by Sarasate, Fauré, Rachmaninov, Pärt, and Ravel. The fifth featured Tchaikovsky and Bruch concerti with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Jakub Hrusa.
Nicola has taken part in many prestigious events, including performances at Windsor Castle for Her Majesty the Queen, the 2012 Ryder Cup Handover Ceremony, opening of the Scottish Parliament, the G8 Summit at Gleneagles and for Comic Relief’s “Classic Relief” concert. In addition to her performance and recording activities, Nicola has devoted herself to humanitarian causes and is a UNICEF Celebrity Supporter. Nicola is also widely respected for her commitment to working with young people. Since 2005, she has visited schools throughout the UK 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 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 to conduct masterclasses and work closely with the children.
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. Upon leaving, 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 (1717), courtesy of Jonathan Moulds.