Friday, 27 May 2016

Article published in Manchester Evening News 27 May 2016 (full version)

SUPER Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti is back with Manchester Camerata on June 3, for their end-of-season concert at the Bridgewater Hall.

It looks like it may be the last of its kind, as their next season’s plans show them playing at other Manchester venues for all events except the traditional New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day junketings. No harm in that – they’re known for crossing boundaries and winning new audiences.

This one is unusual, too, because the conductor is not the Camerata’s music director, Gábor Takács-Nagy, but Andrea Marcon, founder of the Venice Baroque Orchestra, with whom Nicola has been working in recent years on performances of music from that era.

The programme is all-Mozart – symphonies 34 and 35, and violin concertos nos. 3 and 5 – which is interesting because players steeped in the styles of the earlier 18th century usually have something special to bring to music of the classical period, too.

Nicola is a player who’s always keen to learn: “I like to take advice from musicians and conductors I’ve worked with,” she told me.

And she believes in taking time out to re-adjust and work on her performances. “I take breaks from the pressures of being in public all the time,” she said.

“Quite often, in those times I’ll still be playing as much as when I’m touring and performing, but it will be practice at home and learning new repertoire I’ll be doing. That’s not under such pressure, but it’s equally valuable. Working under pressure and getting away from it are both good.”

She’s committed to educational work and getting youngsters interested in classical music. “It’s not something I’ve analysed really,” she adds – “It’s been part of my life naturally – doing concerts, visiting schools, being inquisitive and being concerned about the state of music education in any area where I’m performing.

“A lot of the time it’s about collaborating with existing educational bodies … and even when they just want you to be a figure-head, I want to work with the kids properly.”

Nicola won the BBC Young Musician competition 12 years ago, aged 16, and has since become a recording star and in-demand concert soloist. She was made an MBE in 2013, is fronted a memorable Vivaldi concert with Manchester Camerata in September 2014. This one – part of a short European tour she’s making with maestro Marcon – looks to be another night to remember.

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