BBC Music Magazine

BBC Music Magazine Personalit­y of the Year

Nicola Benedetti


Throughout the pandemic, there have been countless musical heroes, some broadcasti­ng concerts to thousands free of charge or giving socially-distanced outdoor concerts, others campaignin­g gamely behind the scenes for the survival of the arts. One thing to which COVID-19 has dealt a huge scarring blow, however, is education. Children have been deprived of a normal education for over a year, learning through computer screens or within tightly controlled environmen­ts at school. For teachers, maintainin­g morale has been an almost Sisyphean task.

So this year’s Music Personalit­y of the Year goes to someone who, over the past year, has helped keep many young players’ hopes and aspiration­s alive with a mind-boggling array of online courses, videos and social media for budding string players. Such has been the sheer profession­alism and sleekness of these offerings, one would never know they were anything other than the results of a longplanne­d online vision.

But when BBC Music Magazine interviewe­d Nicola Benedetti for our January 2020 cover, plans were afoot to launch her Benedetti Foundation in grand style with a series of exciting live events. One such event went ahead in London, Glasgow and Dundee, before just weeks later, the world went into lockdown.

‘I took some time to reflect,’ says Benedetti. ‘It seems like I instantly kicked into action, but I actually took time just to be. Eventually, Laura [Foundation director Laura Gardiner] and I started to make plans and see whatever was presented to us as an opportunit­y for impacting positive change.’

One of the initiative­s they quickly put in place were the Virtual Sessions, three weeks of online courses for young players of all standards. In the first two weeks alone, the Benedetti Foundation had published over 200 videos, delivered

‘I started to see what was presented to us as an opportunit­y’

46 live Zoom sectionals to around 1,700 string players per week in 66 countries and given 25 live sessions. A final weekend in May 2020 to celebrate the end of the first tranche of Virtual Sessions was packed with interviews, performanc­es, tutorials and discussion­s. ‘The Sessions were the craziest things I’ve ever had to undertake,’ admits Benedetti. ‘The sheer workload was utterly phenomenal, with minute-to-minute deadlines and no sleep for six weeks! But it was a life-changing experience for us in the most positive way.’

The Virtual Sessions were just the start. Virtual Mini Sessions, short workshops focusing on various aspects of technique and general wellbeing, were followed by Global Violin Sessions introducin­g 2,000 participan­ts to music styles from across the world. Next, a webinar series on mental health support; Christmas Sessions giving players a chance to play festive music together; and from March this year, a new series, With Nicky, featuring pre-recorded back-to-basics videos and live sessions. And there has been a good deal more, too.

In some cases, online courses proved to be a better option than live ones. ‘There are certainly things that are enhanced by being on a screen, including the closeness, the intimacy and the clarity of direction,’ explains Benedetti. ‘Karina Canellakis, for instance, could communicat­e things about how to rehearse and how to follow a conductor in ways that for children couldn’t have been done as well live.’

In a tough year, Benedetti has created huge opportunit­y from potential adversity. But she bats back any praise. ‘As I see it,

I’m looking at the stuff I’d planned to do and haven’t done in the last year – that’s permanentl­y my view of myself!’

 ??  ?? Leading the way:
Nicola Benedetti (right) at a Benedetti Foundation event in Glasgow; (below) one of the violinist’s Virtual Sessions
Leading the way: Nicola Benedetti (right) at a Benedetti Foundation event in Glasgow; (below) one of the violinist’s Virtual Sessions
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Positive vibe: ‘It was a life-changing experience’
Positive vibe: ‘It was a life-changing experience’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom