Nicola Benedetti:  Featured Artist for the 2018-19 Season

By Barry Kempton

Schubert Club has been a concert presenter for 125 years!  Our first recital in 1893 featured the German pianist Adele Aus der Ohe.  For each of those 125 years, our recital series has included 4 or 5 artists. 

We have 5 International Artist Series recitals again this coming season – no surprises there!  But for the first time in our history, we have a Featured Artist for the year.  Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti, a beloved musician in Europe since 2004 when she won the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition at the age of 16, will be in residence at Schubert Club in early October and again in January. 

Nicola will perform works by Johannes Brahms (with pianist Alexei Grynyuk) in Schubert Club Mix on October 2nd – and talk about her special love for Brahms’ music.  She also presents a recital program in two January performances at the Ordway, a program which includes the American premiere of a piece written for her by Wynton Marsalis.

A big reason why I’m excited to have her be our inaugural Featured Artist is that she’s not only an amazing musician on the stage, but that she is one of the most committed musicians to the importance of music in the lives of young people.  Indeed her musical prowess together with her fervor for music education and the inclusion of music in the lives of young people have earned her an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) and the Queen’s Medal for Music.

Interspersed with Nicola’s various concert appearances in October and January, Nicola will be teaching violin masterclasses, working with student string players at the Minnesota Youth Symphonies, and bringing young musicians into classrooms to perform for students who have had little – or maybe no – exposure to live music and musicians.

In partnership with Minnesota Public Radio, we’ll be broadcasting live, recording some of her concerts and making video footage of her musical interactions with young people. 

As I look ahead to future years and the kinds of artists and ensembles whom I’d like Schubert Club to invite as Featured Artists, I see a wide variety of possibilities in terms of programming, commissioning new works, community engagement and recording.  The purpose will always be to encourage visiting musicians to show us what makes them interesting and special, both as artists and as human beings.  Nicola’s array of musical pursuits during the coming season here in the Twin Cities will certainly give us an insight into Nicola Benedetti the musician and the person.