The Strad Magazine September 2020

The Strad Magazine September 2020

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When violinist Nicola Benedetti launched her Benedetti Sessions at the beginning of this year she had no idea that the mass-participation workshops for string players and teachers would be stalled by Covid-19. Undeterred, she moved the programme online, which, as she tells Peter Somerford, was no bad thing

When I speak to Nicola Benedetti via a WhatsApp call in early June, part of her is still buzzing from the culmination on 31 May of three weeks’ intensive work on the Virtual Benedetti Sessions, her foundation’s first major online music education project. Another part of her is embracing the chance to reconnect with family and catch up on sleep. And yet another part is trained on the existential issue of how classical music can not only survive the Covid-19 pandemic but also change for the better.

While some international soloists might have used the enforced break from live performance to study scores or take some time for private contemplation, Benedetti led a team of tutors into action. They threw themselves into producing daily online music lessons, and then, for the Virtual Sessions, hundreds of videos and a raft of live Zoom sectionals, helping more than 7,000 participants from around the world collectively prepare for a virtual string orchestra concert that must rank as one of the most inclusive and life-affirming of the lockdown period…