Nicola Benedetti In-depth Biography
The Italian-Scots violinist Nicola Benedetti} followed in a long line of British Isles teenagers hailed as revitalizers of classical} music. In advance of making any recordings whatsoever, she was signed to a six-album contract by the Universal} label in January 2005 and assigned to its prestigious Deutsche Grammophon} imprint, with a paycheck reportedly in excess of one million pounds (over $1,880,000). Her fashion-model looks fit the pattern. Benedetti} diverged from predecessors like Vanessa-Mae} and singer Charlotte Church}, however, in that she stuck to traditional classical} repertory and did not try to cross over into the pop} world.
Born in 1987 in West Kilbride, Ayrshire, Scotland, Benedetti} was the daughter of a prosperous Italian-born manufacturer of plastic cases for first-aid kits. When she was four, she tagged along with her eight-year-old sister Stephanie} to a violin lesson and then took up the instrument herself; the two sisters remained close confidantes, and Stephanie} has been active as an orchestral musician. Nicola} attended the Yehudi Menuhin} School in England's Surrey region, an institution whose music programs have recently produced Nigel Kennedy} and other top-flight players. She gave performances at several top British concert halls, later moving to London to study with violinist Maciej Rakowski}. When Benedetti} was 14, she won a Prodigy of the Year contest on England's Carlton Television} network. A hint of her potential crossover appeal came when she drew a crowd of 10,000 at the rock}-oriented Glastonbury Festival}'s "classical} extravaganza" in the summer of 2003. She told London's Independent} newspaper, however, that "I have not ruled out different types of music but I was trained as a classical} musician. I don't want to compromise what I do and what I love." At another stratum of British journalism, she told the Mirror} that "I'm not really into clubbing and I've never smoked or drunk much -- and I won't wear anything tarty."
Benedetti} took a big step toward mainstream classical} stardom when she won the BBC}'s Young Musician of the Year award in May 2004, performing Szymanowski}'s virtuoso concerto} and becoming the first Scot to take home the BBC} prize. Over that summer she was featured on the cover of BBC Music}, and she appeared with the Scottish Symphony} and other top groups. With money and publicity coming her way, she was in a position to make the most of her talents. The Times of London} forecast a promising future for the youngster, noting that "her poised handling of the whirlwind of fame and honeyed blandishments that came her way last year suggests that her youthful passion in performance is balanced offstage by a healthy streak of that quintessential Scottish trait -- prudence." ~ James Manheim, All Music Guide