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.” This sums up Nicola’s ability to communicate and enthrall audiences with dynamic and energy-filled performances.
Throughout her career, Nicola’s desire to perform new works 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, her success that catapulted her to fame in 2004, was just the beginning of her focus on less-often programmed repertoire and new music. 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 performances of all repertoire are influenced by this wide range of interests and study.
In recent seasons, Nicola has performed with almost all of the U.K. and Ireland’s major symphony orchestras including the London Philharmonic, Philharmonia and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestras, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony orchestra and the RTE Orchestra. As word of her immense musicality and ability to reach audiences has spread, she has received invitations to work with a list of international orchestras that include the Deutsche Symphony Orchestra in Berlin, Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich, NDR Orchester in Llubjiana, Russian National Orchestra, Het Brabants Orkest, Orchestre de Picardie, KBS Symphony and Japan Philharmonic.
Nicola’s busy schedule has seen her work with conductors such as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Jakub Hrusa, Louis Langree, Andrew Litton, Sir Neville Marriner, Kristjan Jarvi, Paavo Jarvi, Mikhail Pletnev, Donald Runnicles, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Mario Venzago, Pinchas Zukerman and Jaap van Zweden. In the 2009/10 season, she toured the U.K. with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and made debuts at the Tivoli Festival in Copenhagen and the Echternach Festival in Luxembourg. In 2010/11, she made a highly acclaimed BBC Proms debut, and performed with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Montpellier as well as being a featured artist at the Istanbul Festival. In North America, she has performed with the Dallas, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Toronto and Vancouver symphony orchestras and the National Arts Centre Orchestra. 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.
Highlights of the 2011/12 season include a highly publicized New York Philharmonic performance in Central Park as a special guest with Andrea Bocelli and Alan Gilbert conducting and her debut with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Enescu Festival in Bucharest. Elsewhere she makes her debuts with the Netherlands Radio Phliharmonic, Zurich Chamber, Cincinnati Symphony, Detroit Symphony and Hallé orchestras. She will also tour the U.K. with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra playing Brahms’ Double Concerto for Violin and Cello with Leonard Elschenbroich, and this is followed by a performance of the same work with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Christoph Eschenbach. Later in the season, Nicola will also perform a series of recitals for the BBC at LSO St. Luke’s in London, visit Italy with the Mantova Chamber Orchestra and will perform multiple times with the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra and Scottish Chamber Orchestra. She also embarks on her tour of South America that takes her to major concert halls in cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo and Lima.
Nicola has captivated audiences with recitals across Europe and North America, giving performances at Wigmore Hall; the Sage, Gateshead; Fazoli Concert Hall, Sacile; Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater, New York; Gardner Museum, Boston; UNC Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater in Washington D.C.
Nicola performs in chamber music concerts throughout the U.K. and Europe with her regular trio. Along with cellist Leonard Elschenbroich and pianist Alexei Grynyuk, she has performed at Schloss Elmau and as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, Jersey International Music Festival and Thaxted Festival. Nicola has also played chamber music at the Verbier Festival, the Moritzburg Festival, the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, the Tuscan Sun Festival in Cortona with Jean Yves Thibaudet, at Lockenhaus and at Prussia Cove.
Winner of the Classical BRIT Award for Young British Classic Performer in 2008, Nicola has released five CDs with Universal/Deutsche Grammophon, the most recent featuring 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 is 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. In 2011/12, Nicola releases her first recording on the Decca Classics label; a disc of baroque violin masterpieces by Vivaldi, Tartini and Veracini entitled “Italia”.
Nicola has also taken part in many prestigious events, including performances at Windsor Castle for her Majesty the Queen, opening of the Scottish Parliament, G8 Summit at Gleneagles and for Comic Relief’s Gala concert ‘Classic Relief.’ In addition to her performance and recording activities, Nicola has devoted herself to humanitarian and educational causes. 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 program’s official musical “Big Sister”, Nicola makes regular visits to Raploch, Scotland to conduct master classes and work closely with the children. Nicola is also a UNICEF Celebrity Supporter.
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 in London. She is currently taking lessons from Pavel Vernikov in Vienna.
Nicola plays the Earl Spencer Stradivarius (c 1712), courtesy of Jonathan Moulds.