Scotland

Nicola Benedetti's decade of success

Nicola Benedetti
Image caption Scotland's Nicola Benedetti has become one of the best known faces in modern classical music

Nicola Benedetti is returning as an ambassador for this year's BBC Young Musician of the Year finals, 10 years after winning the award which catapulted her to stardom .

The contest, which began in 1978, has become one of the most popular classical music awards in the country.

Held every two years, it returns to Edinburgh's Usher Hall this weekend, with three of the country's most talented young musicians competing for the accolade.

Nicola Benedetti is one of its most famous winners. She took the award in 2004, at the aged of 16, performing a rendition of Karol Szymanowski's First Violin Concerto.

Born in West Kilbride, North Ayrshire, in 1987, Benedetti was destined for a success as a classical musician from an early age.

At the age of eight, she became the leader of the National Children's Orchestra of Great Britain. By the time she was 12 she was regularly performing with the Scottish National Orchestra.

Ten years after her BBC triumph she believes the competition's ability to give young musicians a chance to express themselves on a major stage remains a special one.

"So much of it is who you are, and what you are trying to express in that moment.," she said.

"It's the ability to cope with a multitude of emotions, to bring that all together in a moment that lives once."

Image caption Nicola Benedetti after winning the 2004 BBC Young Musician of the Year

After winning the competition she became one of the most recognisable faces in classical music.

By the end of that year she had signed a £1m recording deal with the classical arm of Decca Records for six albums.

She has remained a firm favourite for classical concert audiences. Her career includes an acclaimed performance at the 2012 Last Night of the Proms.

Last year she was awarded an MBE for services to charity and music.

Image caption Performing at the 2009 'Proms on the Park' at Glasgow Green

A common theme across Benedetti's career is her attempts to help convey her passion for classical music to music fans who might not consider the genre as being "cool".

She has played live performances for events as diverse as Glasgow's Celtic Connections festival, traditionally a platform for Scottish folk artists.

In 2012 she was given the opportunity to get 40,000 festival campers out of their tents when she opened the main stage at the T in the Park Festival at Balado.

The chance to pass on her love of music is something she remains passionate about. Speaking to a packed classroom of children in India as part of a BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra tour she attempted to explain why performing means so much to her:

"I love it very much... you know your emotions? Well music can make you feel all kinds of emotions. It makes you feel very good."

Image caption Meeting Prince Charles as she is admitted to the Fellowship of the Royal College of Music of Musicians in 2014

She admits that despite having played in the Usher Hall several times since her winning performance for the BBC competition, the venue still rekindles a "special feeling" for her.

"I just cannot disassociate the hall from that feeling, which is a pleasure really."

"I was talking to some of the young musicians, saying that I hope some of my remembered apprehension doesn't rub off on them negatively."

She laughs, then adds: "I'm going to have to act like I'm a little cool."

Related Topics

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites