While some of today’s youth aspire to fame, you can’t help but wish their role model included Nicola Benedetti.
She has a passion for dedication, hard work, education, and helping others. Not bad, but then you remember she is only 24.
She was born in West Kilbride in 1987 to Giovanni and Francesca, who still live there, and has an elder sister Stephanie, also a successful violinist.
Nicola started violin aged 4, and began studying at the Yehudi Menuhin School in 1997.
When she won Young Musician of The Year in 2004, aged 16, the prize launched a sky-rocket of a career.
She plays a £2 million, 1714, Stradivarius violin (on loan from an American bank) and has worked with some of the world’s leading conductors and orchestras.
She maintains strong links with her home town, recently opening the refurbished Portencross Castle.
In 2008, Nicola helped to set up an education project in Stirling’s Raploch area, called El Sistema, based on the long running Venezuelan model (developed to tackle “spiritual poverty” among children in the slums of Caracas).
She said “El Sistema and Big Noise projects now have 300 children from 5 to 10 years old, all learning instruments. I’m basically the big sister, but involved in a very hands-on, masterclass teaching role, … and a more loose advisory role.”
“Education is the only really secure and reliable way to help a generation.”
Big Noise teaches children to play stringed instruments, encourages them to work together, and aims to boost confidence.
A recent report by the Scottish Govt. suggested that Big Noise was transforming the Raploch, an area once synonymous with crime and drug problems.
Nicola Benedetti has a vision of Scotland as a nation of top-class musicians, and for this we owe her a debt of gratitude.