Nicola Benedetti is one of the most sought-after violinists of her generation. Her ability to captivate audiences with her innate musicianship and spirited presence, coupled with her wide appeal as a high-profile advocate for classical music, has made her one of the most influential classical artists of today.
Born in Scotland of Italian heritage, Nicola began violin lessons at the age of five with Brenda Smith. 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.
With concerto performances at the heart of her career, Nicola is in much demand with major orchestras across the globe. Conductors with whom Nicola has worked include Vladimir Ashkenazy, Jiří Bělohlávek, Stéphane Denève, Christoph Eschenbach, James Gaffigan, Valery Gergiev, Alan Gilbert, Jakub Hrůša, Kirill Karabits, Kristjan Järvi, Vladimir Jurowski, Cristian Măcelaru, Zubin Mehta, Andrea Marcon, Gianandrea Noseda, Michael Tilson Thomas, Robin Ticciati, Vasily Petrenko, Donald Runnicles, Thomas Søndergård, Pinchas Zukerman and Jaap van Zweden.
Nicola enjoys working with the highest level of orchestras including collaborations with the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre, Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Czech Philharmonic, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and National Symphony Orchestra of Washington D.C.
In 2021-2022, Nicola opens the Barbican Centre’s season and amongst others, collaborates with the London Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and Cincinnati Symphony. Other season highlights include engagements with LA Philharmonic, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, play-directing with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and tours to Spain with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Asia with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition, Nicola will be Artist in Residence at this year’s Aldeburgh Festival.
In April 2021 Nicola gave the world premiere of Mark Simpson’s Violin Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra and Gianandrea Noseda – receiving critically acclaimed reviews. Nicola is also a devoted chamber musician and collaborates with cellist Leonard Elschenbroich and pianist Alexei Grynyuk, who have been performing as a trio since 2008. Past performances include Wigmore Hall, London, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Edinburgh International Festival, Alte Oper, Frankfurt, Ravinia Festival, 92nd Street Y, New York and City Hall, Hong Kong. In June 2021 the trio embarked on a UK tour giving seven performances across the country, and in spring 2022 the trio embarks on a three week-long European tour with works by Schumann, Rihm and Brahms.
Nicola has continued her role as a dedicated, passionate ambassador and leader in music education. Her commitment to supporting the UK’s music practitioners was underlined in July 2018, when Nicola took over as President of the European String Teachers’ Association. She has formalised her vision and expanded her commitment to the education of young people and supporting of music teachers by establishing a charitable organisation: The Benedetti Foundation. Launched in January 2020, The Benedetti Foundation, puts on transformative orchestra-based workshops for young people and teachers, that showcase what music education at its best can look and feel like. Since its formation, the Foundation has delivered four sessions in the UK, working with children and teachers from 31 out of the 32 local authorities in Scotland, 30 out of London’s 32 boroughs, and in close partnership with many organisations, music services, hubs and private music teachers across the UK. In May 2020, during lockdown, the Foundation went online with a “virtual sessions” providing over 7,000 musicians of all ages and stages online tutorials and inspirational workshops.
Nicola continues to hold key positions in a number of the country’s most established and high-quality youth music organisations including the National Children’s Orchestras (Vice President), Sistema Scotland (Big Sister), National Youth Orchestras of Scotland’s Junior Orchestra (Patron), Music in Secondary Schools’ Trust (Patron), Junior Conservatoire at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Patron) and many more.
Winner of the GRAMMY Award for Best Classical Instrumental Solo in 2020, as well as Best Female Artist at both 2012 and 2013 Classical BRIT Awards, Nicola records exclusively for Decca (Universal Music). Her most recent recording of Elgar’s Violin Concerto entered at number one in the UK’s Official Classical Album Chart and received critical acclaim including a 5* review in The Times: “Yet beyond sheer agility, Benedetti offers listeners something even more valuable: a dynamic personal interpretation, refreshing and convincing.” Other recent recordings include her GRAMMY award-winning album written especially for her by jazz musician Wynton Marsalis: Violin Concerto in D and Fiddle Dance Suite for Solo Violin. Nicola’s recording catalogue also includes works from Shostakovich & Glazunov Violin Concertos to Szymanowski Concerto (London Symphony Orchestra/Daniel Harding) to Homecoming; A Scottish Fantasy, which made Nicola the first solo British violinist since the 1990s to enter the Top 20 of the Official UK Album Chart. In 2021 BBC Music Magazine named her ‘Personality of the Year’ for her online support of many young musicians during the pandemic. Her Virtual Sessions delivered three weeks of online courses to players of all ages and standards, published over 300 videos, delivered 64 live Zoom sectionals to around 1,900 musicians a week in 66 countries and gave 30 live sessions.
Nicola was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2019 New Year Honours list, awarded the Queen’s Medal for Music in 2017, the youngest ever recipient, and was appointed as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2013 in recognition of her international music career and work with musical charities throughout the United Kingdom. In addition, Nicola has received nine honorary degrees to date.
In March 2022, Nicola became the Director Designate of the Edinburgh International Festival, becoming Festival Director on 1 October 2022. In taking the role, she will be both the first Scottish and the first female Festival Director since the Festival began in 1947.
Nicola plays the Gariel Stradivarius (1717), courtesy of Jonathan Moulds.