Violinist Benedetti: Populism to promote music is okay

Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:38pm EDT
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By Michael Roddy

STAFFORD England (Reuters) - Violinist Nicola Benedetti has a best-selling album in the British pop charts so it comes as no surprise that she approves of a bit of populism to get the message across that classical music can be fun.

She does, though, draw the line at marketing herself as the "classical babe" that the British tabloids thought was a good niche for her, when she first exploded onto the British music scene as BBC Young Musician of the Year a decade ago.

It is not that the Scottish-born violinist of Italian heritage opposes product endorsements, and she knows that with her career progressing by leaps and bounds she could have plenty of them, but she thinks they can get in the way of the music.

"It's difficult and I don't really know how I feel about that," she said, talking about endorsements after performing Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" with the Manchester Camerata chamber orchestra in this English Midlands city on Friday.

"But you always have to ask yourself, 'Is your main goal to be as good a musician as possible, and for as many people as possible?' Then you'll enter into the means that get you to more people, and that seems to be a fairly natural progression."

She certainly enchanted a packed audience at The Gatehouse Theatre in Stafford, and won rave reviews when she and the Manchester Camerata, under Hungarian conductor Gabor Takacs-Nagy, repeated the same program on Saturday in Manchester.

"Obviously she's a brilliant violinist," Takacs-Nagy, also a noted violinist, said after conducting with Benedetti as soloist. "She is a very spontaneous player who is improvising - it is quite close to how I imagine music making."


Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti performs a free concert at the Festival Hall in London, October 17, 2010. REUTERS/Andrew Winning