Violinist Nicola Benedetti announced as director of Edinburgh International Festival

1 March 2022, 12:00 | Updated: 2 March 2022, 18:01

Multi award-winning violinist and educator Nicola Benedetti
Multi award-winning violinist and educator Nicola Benedetti. Picture: Franz Galo / Getty Images

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

Benedetti will be the first Scottish, and first female director in the festival’s 75-year history.

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Multi award-winning violinist and educator Nicola Benedetti CBE has been announced as the new director of the Edinburgh International Festival.

The 34-year-old musician will be the first female director, and the first Scottish director of the 75-year old international festival.

She will take over the position of festival director beginning 1 October 2022. The Edinburgh International Festival was created in 1947 to celebrate the enduring human spirit following the adversity of war, and has developed into the world’s leading performing arts festival, featuring the finest performers from the worlds of dance, opera, music and theatre. Classic FM has partnered with the EIF for several years running, to premiere beautiful classical concerts online.

This year the International Festival celebrates its 75th anniversary and will take place from 5 to 28 August 2022.

On the appointment, Benedetti said: “I am deeply honoured to contribute to the long and rich history of the Edinburgh International Festival and the cultural landscape of Scotland.

“This festival was founded on principles of reconciliation and the ideals of art transcending political and cultural fracture.

“Following in the footsteps of the wonderful achievements of Fergus Linehan and his predecessors, I will uphold these values and greatly look forward to serving this festival, its mission of cultural exchanges, and the people of Scotland.”

Read more: Classic FM partners with Edinburgh International Festival to premiere beautiful concerts

Edinburgh International Festival | Royal Scottish National Orchestra

We're delighted to partner with the Edinburgh International Festival and share the magic of live music with you all... This incredible performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 is from Classic FM's Orchestra in Scotland, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, conducted by Elim Chan. You can watch the entire concert from 25 November, and tickets are free 👉 https://clssicfm.co/3mpXLYD

Posted by Classic FM on Saturday, August 21, 2021

Benedetti was born in the Scottish town of Irvine, and began violin lessons at the age of four, before winning a place at the Yehudi Menuhin School.

She has since gone on to tour internationally with some of the world’s greatest orchestras and conductors, and win multiple awards, including a Grammy, for her performances.

‘The Benedetti Foundation’ was established in 2019 by the Scottish-Italian violinist. Since its launch, the Foundation has worked with over 29,000 participants, aged 2 to 92, from 103 countries through its in-person workshops and online sessions for young people, students, teachers and adults. The Foundation unites those who believe that music is integral to a great education and demonstrates teaching through innovative and creative musical experiences accessible to all.

In 2017, Benedetti was awarded the Queen’s Medal for Music, becoming its youngest ever recipient. She has also received nine honorary degrees to date, and was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2019 New Year Honours, ‘For services to Music’.

Read more: ‘With Nicky’: Nicola Benedetti’s educational violin videos with practice tips, techniques and support

Nicola Benedetti with her CBE following an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace
Nicola Benedetti with her CBE following an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Picture: Getty

The Chair of the Board of Trustees for Edinburgh International Festival, Keith Skeoch added: “In many ways [Benedetti] reflects the spirit of this festival; internationally recognised and respected but Scottish to her core, she’s dedicated to advocating world-class music making and innovating new ways to bring it to audiences.

“As an artist, her string of collaborators reads like a who's who of the world of classical music and as an educator she has reached tens of thousands worldwide.

“I have no doubt that she will bring a wealth of new ideas to the organisation and build on Fergus’ exceptional work from the last eight years.”

Benedetti takes over the position from Linehan, who became the director and chief executive of the Edinburgh International Festival in 2015.

Under his leadership the festival expanded its programme to include large-scale, free events and music genres which had previously been underrepresented at the Festival.

Read more: Violinist Nicola Benedetti on what classical music could learn from jazz gigs

Nicola Benedetti wins Best Classical Artist at The Global Awards 2019

First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon also added her congratulations to Benedetti saying, “I welcome Nicola Benedetti’s appointment as Director – especially as she becomes the first woman to ever hold the role.

“Her experience in promoting Scotland’s cultural scene to audiences around the world will be invaluable and I wish her every success.”