Q & A with Nicola Benedetti – Vivaldi's Four Seasons
Describe the moment you first knew you wanted to be a violinist?
I actually never had a moment of seriously questioning playing the violin, but equally don’t recall one moment I decided it was what I wanted to ‘be’. My parents didn’t have any experience with instruments or classical music, so there was never any pressure on whether or not my sister and I would become musicians. It’s a very gradual process but one that continued steadily in the right direction. Playing the violin takes so much consistency and the practice can be hard going, I must have always enjoyed it enough to keep on playing so much. When I was 7 years old, my mum, in response to a complaint about practicing, told me ‘you don’t have to play the violin, you know.’ This was the most shocking thing anyone had ever said to me. The idea that I should give up? Never!
Besides learning the music, how do you prepare for your performances in general (mentally, physically, emotionally)?
Every performance is different and I’ve learnt to embrace the unpredictability. In saying that, I try always to sleep enough, and remind myself that the audience is there to enjoy the music. The best I can do is demonstrate my adoration for it.
What is your favorite movement in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to play and why?
It is near impossible to choose one! They are all little perfect characterizations in themselves, complete in themselves. The country, playful and random nature of Autumn perhaps appeals to me most.
What advice would you have for young violinists looking to perfect their craft?
I’d love to say ‘just believe in what you do and enjoy yourself doing it’, but the truth is it takes a lot of slow work with a steady, patient heartbeat. Nothing that feels truly gratifying comes to you instantly. Be patient and try to enjoy and embrace the journey getting there. The work is a huge part of the fun. Being serious about sounding really good on your instrument, that is better than fun. It’s fulfilling.