The violinist spent two days with primary school kids and Sydney Youth Orchestra.

Scottish violinist and BBC Proms sensation Nicola Benedetti made a pit stop in Sydney on her way to perform with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. But rather than sell out a concert hall here, she chose to visit pint-sized musicians at Concord West Public School and held a master class with the Sydney Youth Orchestra. 

But if that seems like little more than a cute publicity stunt and a photo op, think again. Benedetti is passionately outspoken on matters of music education and active in supporting the El Sistema program in Scotland. She studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School as a teenager, securing a £2 million record deal at the age of 16. Now 25, and still just eligible to play in Sydney Youth Orchestra herself, she makes an ideal role model. 

“It’s a momentary inspiration for children to have someone who is a young performer come and play with them,” she said. “That experience can stay with them for an awfully long time and can get them through many hours of practice. For me, it is always worth the time. And there is time to do it; you can fit in school visits and meeting children that come to concerts if you believe it’s important enough to do.” 

On Monday October 22, the violin superstar played Bach with the primary school students and music teacher at Concord West Public. “They played so unbelievably well,” she enthused. “They were so focused; they had great attitude and real enthusiasm. They were all excited, wonderfully behaved children and it was a great atmosphere all round.” At the end of the workshop, she presented the school with a violin. 

Benedetti gave her Sunday to teenage and university-age musicians in the SYO, playing the Korngold Violin Concerto and holding a masterclass with three solo violinists and 30-minute Q&A session. Sydney Youth Orchestra general manager Bernie Heard noted that “they were all grinning for the first ten minutes, but then deeply concentrating to absorb all that she passed on about creating a uniform sound. 

“Her professionalism, strong work ethic and deep commitment to excellence was most inspiring. Nicky spoke beautifully and personally, her answers resonating and relatable for all our young musicians.” In the masterclass, he added, “she achieved huge improvements for each of the musicians in just a short time. I am sure every musician went home and practised with new enthusiasm!” 

Having since given a masterclass at the Elder Conservatorium in Adelaide, Benedetti spends the rest of the week performing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, insisting that the work is “one of my three favourite concertos to perform. It’s one of the most romantic, relentless, heartbreaking and the most tiring to play. You have to be absolutely dedicated and inside the piece with every fibre of your body.”

Nicola Benedetti plays with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra from October 25–27. View event details here. Her new album The Silver Violin is out now on Decca.