Acclaimed violinist Nicola Benedetti, sold out the Royal Albert Hall in September and at just 28, is probably the performer young classical musicians would most like to meet.
A few days after the concert more than 30 teenage string players got that opportunity through the Albert Hall’s Education and Outreach Programme.
The focus of the session was Ms Benedetti’s approach to Autumn from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, a key piece in her current Italy-inspired tour programme.
The difficulty of the piece meant the invited students, aged 13 to 17, had to be grade eight or equivalent, and possibly considering careers as professional musicians.
“The music is a vehicle through which you begin a dialogue on an array of personal, musical and violinistical issues,” explained Nicola
Known as a risk-taking musician, she got the students to stand up and stamp their feet in time to the opening bars of the piece, which depicts a hunt.
It was loud.
“These are gunshots… like an explosion, sudden rather than nice, nice.”
She took on the solo of the frightened animal running away from the bangs.
“I am an animal that’s running away and this should be like a chase. You kill me at the end. At the moment it’s really far too polite.
“Be less polite, almost break your strings – but don’t break your strings.”
These are talented and committed young musicians. Hugo, 13, got grade eight violin two years ago.
“But for me the grades are less important than the musicality,” he said.
In the question-and-answer session he asked about the technique of vibrato.
“I have this weird thing with my hand and she called me up.”
Nicola gave him an exercise to relax the muscles in his hand which she promised would work over time.
“Learning how to do vibrato is kind of mystical. People try to teach it to you. Just do the exercise and be chilled,” she advised.
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