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Former BBC Young Musician of the Year shows her craft in front of an admiring audience




The opportunity to see two-time Classical BRIT Awards best Female Artist winner Nicola Benedetti in concert is one not to be missed.

To be able to see the 2004 BBC Young Musician of the Year play the violin like it was a trusted friend just over 30 miles from Spalding town centre is probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

St Wulfram's Church, Grantham, was the proud host of the Scottish/Italian musician, accompanied by "graduates" from the Benedetti Foundation Orchestra and the next generation of classical music interpreters for a night where quality superseded quantity.

Violinist Nicola Benedetti was the star musician at a concert in Grantham on Friday.Photo by Simon Fowler. (21482296)
Violinist Nicola Benedetti was the star musician at a concert in Grantham on Friday.Photo by Simon Fowler. (21482296)

In just 80 minutes, Benedetti and her musical companions took works by Bach, Tchaikovsky and Elgar to heart, turning each one into a heartfelt plea for society to be "more creative, enlightened and fulfilled" by a love of music, according to the foundation's mission statement.

The concert opened with Benedetti's solo performance of Bach's Chaconne from Partitia No.2 in D Minor, a 15-minute violin showpiece composed between 1718 and 1720, described by one music critic as the German composer's "most mysterious, creative masterwork".

Left to Benedetti, Bach's Chaconne became a testimony of her 27 years spent learning how to make arguably the most subtle of all stringed instruments a tool to speak into people's hearts and minds about what the violinist described on the night as "this vision of bringing the best of what music education can feel like and look like".

A mini-orchestra of fellow violinists Yume Fujise and Ruth Nelson, viola player Jenny Lewisohn and cellists Robin Michael and Bartholomew LaFolette then joined Benedetti for Tchaikovsky's Souvenir De Florence.

In terms of audience response, this piece of musical romance which represents the Russian composer's adoration of the Italian city of Florence, only matched by his affection for the music of Mozart, brought the most rousing response.

None of the musicians sharing the stage with Benedetti were either intimidated or overawed by the prospect of upstaging the person in whose name the concert was staged, instead content to "play their own game", to use the sporting phrase.

Youngsters from Oasby Music Group, a Grantham-based project founded by Laura Gardner, a Scottish violinist and contemporary of Benedetti, had their moment in the limelight for the final piece of the concert, Elgar's Introduction and Allegro for Strings, Op. 47.

Violinist Nicola Benedetti, conductor Laura Gardner and young performers from Oasby Music Group in October 2017. (21489691)
Violinist Nicola Benedetti, conductor Laura Gardner and young performers from Oasby Music Group in October 2017. (21489691)

Composed in 1905 as a follow-up to the English composer's haunting, yet unforgettable Enigma Variations, the gathering of stringed instrumentalists at St Wulfram's Church cast aside every inhibition imaginable to send Elgar's "calling card" for the London Symphony Orchestra (formed just before Introduction and Allegro was composed) into a South Kesteven orbit.

Every member of the audience who was inside St Wulfram's Church, boasting as it does the "finest steeple in England" (according to journalist Simon Jenkins) , will remember the night when Nicola Benedetti made music in Grantham.

Review by Winston Brown


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