You may not think of the young classical violinist Nicola Benedetti as a jazz musician, but as I have so often discussed on this blog, the new look of classical music is going to be one of blending musical cultures. Nicola Benedetti, only 21 years old and already a well established international performer winning a Classical Brit award and, at 16, the BBC's Young Musician of the Year title, among other accolades, is influenced not only by the classical music she performs, but by the music of her generation.
In a recent review by Anne Midgette of the Washington post Benedetti is credited with "one of the few times I've ever heard a classically trained violinist actually seem to understand the jazz idiom that Ravel was trying to bring out" in the second movement of his violin sonata.
In a previous review by Paul Bodine of the OC Register, "Benedetti could serve up thrilling playing, as in the first movement crescendo of Ravel's Sonata in G major, and extraordinary intensity, as in the same piece's bluesy second movement. Still, the overriding feeling her music produced was of self-possessed calm, a relaxed poise that hid the concentration, precision, and well-judged rightness of her music-making behind an appearance of effortless economy."
For someone so young to understand these nuances of Ravel is quite a feat. But then again, she is as comfortable playing Mozart or Mendelssohn as "relaxing to Norah Jones, Joss Stone or a bit of R&B" - Scotland on Sunday (2004). Often credited for/accused of bringing classical music into the mainstream with her striking looks and fresh style, she continues to rage against the snobs of classical music, "The whole thought that anybody can be insulted by the idea of something being popular is such a ridiculous notion to me." and yet, "I don't think people are condemning me at all for popularising (classical music). I'm not. I have a lot of people coming to my concerts and I'm not changing the music whatsoever. So I have nothing to retaliate against, and I think there are very few people who are against what I'm doing, because it's not altering the music." She's just bringing a fresh attitude to existing pieces and perhaps giving us a youthful prespective the music needs.
Nicola is primarily focused on getting better, "I want to be playing better and doing more interesting things musically in 20 years’ time than I am now. So whatever huge ups and downs I have today, I’m just trying to see that as part of a much, much longer line." As amazing as she is now, just think where she'll be at twice her age!