20 May 2019

Q&A with Nicola Benedetti


20 May


What were the key moments in your childhood that led to you wanting to be a professional violinist?

I started learning the violin aged four because I copied my big sister. She is four years older than me and I wanted to do everything that she did. The initial phase was hard but I remember being so moved by music from a very young age and was hooked. I can’t remember ever seriously considering doing anything else.

How old were you when you first played Bruch’s First Violin Concerto and how has your interpretation changed since then?

I first learnt the second movement when I was eight, and the third when I was nine. I’m sure I sounded quite ridiculous playing it at that age, I wasn’t good enough at all! But I totally loved it, and tried my best. I then didn’t play it again till I was 17 or thereabouts. Of course, it changes every time I play it.

On the day of a concert, how do you prepare? Do you have any rituals you follow?

Yes and no. I used to be very controlling over the amount of practice I did, when I washed my hands, etc. Now, I’m more relaxed. My routine is to try to be in an open state and recognise what my body and mind needs in order to be prepared for walking on stage. It’s a complicated thing, really. It’s way beyond the purely physical.

Have you performed with conductor Pablo Heras-Casado before?

No, and I’m really looking forward to it!

You’ve recently launched The Benedetti Foundation. Congratulations on its success so far. What would be your top tip for beginner violinists?

Thank you. We are in the very early stages but I am very excited about the Foundation, and to be formalising my vision and expanding my commitment to the education of young people and to supporting music teachers. My top tip for beginner violinists is to be patient and to persevere. The violin is hard and can be very frustrating, particularly in the early days, but don’t get disheartened. Do little and often on a daily basis and you will see big improvements. Also, do look at my online video series ‘With Nicky’ on YouTube for some helpful tips!

Which of our forthcoming concerts would you recommend?

Smetana’s The Bartered Bride at Garsington Opera.

Nicola Benedetti performs Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 at Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall on Sunday 2 June 2019.