Violinist Nicola Benedetti’s Foundation announces special Baroque Virtual Sessions

7 July 2021, 09:41 | Updated: 7 July 2021, 09:43

Violinist Nicola Benedetti’s Foundation announces special Baroque Virtual Sessions
Violinist Nicola Benedetti’s Foundation announces special Baroque Virtual Sessions. Picture: Alister Firth / Craig Gibson

By Rosie Pentreath

Benedetti and a roster of international Baroque specialists will host her three-week Baroque Virtual Sessions from 5 to 25 July – with a final celebratory concert on Sunday 1 August.

Violinist and passionate music education advocate, Nicola Benedetti, has announced the Benedetti Foundation’s first ever Baroque Virtual Sessions.

Taking place online between 5 and 25 July, the educational sessions will be aimed at all ages and playing levels, and taught by a roster of renowned Baroque specialists from around the world. There will also be a final performance for participants to show off what they’ve learned, on Sunday 1 August.

Musicians of all ages and stages can experience wonderful Baroque music, hearing it played by the world’s best while also taking part in hands-on learning and performances themselves.

Baroque music, with its catchy melodies and focus around dance styles, lends so well to group music-making and discovery. And Benedetti is soon to release her new recording, Baroque, on Decca Classics – something that’s just one part of her long-dreamt-of project bringing together a recording, special live performances (at Battersea Arts Centre where the album was recorded), and the Benedetti Foundation’s education work.

“As we hopefully emerge from this long period of closed doors, we want to bring an experience full of love and fun and excitement,” Benedetti says.

“Italian Baroque music does this to the fullest and I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to playing this repertoire to a live audience and teaching its magic to our participants.”

Read more: Violinist Nicola Benedetti: “Music needs a more prominent place in the stringent education system”

Nicola Benedetti’s new recording, Baroque, is out on 16 July 2021
Nicola Benedetti’s new recording, Baroque, is out on 16 July 2021. Picture: Craig Gibson

There will be ‘Saturday Sessions’ over the three weeks of the Virtual Sessions, which allow all levels of learners to get a foundation in the instruments, musical styles and context of Baroque music. And there will be specific string sessions aimed at people who play the instrument, allocated by grade, so that people can find playing and tuition at their level.

The Sessions will see participants take on Geminiani’s La Folia Variations, which feature on Benedetti’s Baroque album.

The Baroque Sessions are the next in a series of Virtual Benedetti Sessions, established in 2020 to bring mass music tuition and inspiration to people in their homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Benedetti continues: “I’ve long believed that Baroque music in general is an untapped secret for the world of collective and community music making and occupies an odd place in our formative years of learning instrumental music.

“We have so much more to learn from the energetic and revolutionary advancements in baroque interpretation. We can approach these works in ways that inspire fun and enjoyment, a greater sense of togetherness and community, a true abandonment of caution, and an embracing of scratches and scrapes and unapologetic flair.”

How are the Baroque Sessions structured?

Over three weeks from Monday 5 to Sunday 25 July, the Sessions will take the form of a selection of live tutorials, pre-recorded lessons, masterclasses, live sessions, improvisation sessions, and rhythm and expression sessions with dancers, as well as the final performances of La Folia on Sunday 1 August, which will collect remote video recordings together into a virtual concert.

Click here for more detail.

Which Baroque specialists will be teaching the Sessions?

The Sessions will be led by a team of internationally acclaimed Baroque performers and teachers, including violinists Kati Debretzeni, Maggie Faultless, Michael Gurevich and Andrea Marcon; violists Clifton Harrison and Becky Jones; cellists Luise Buchberger, Sarah McMahon, Robin Michael and David Watkin; double bassist Nikta Nuamov; and Thomas Dunford and Liz Kenny on the lute.

They will be joined by the Benedetti Foundation’s team of tutors, a group of dancers led by Imogen Alvares, and the Foundation’s ambassadors.

Watch video highlights from the Baroque Sessions

Who can take part?

All levels of music learners, lovers and string players are invited to take part – from beginners intrigued to learn more about the music and history behind this word ‘Baroque’, to conservatoire students and beyond looking to really refine their string techniques:

  • String Players – open to any age and all levels of playing, from introductory to conservatoire / professional level.
  • Open to all – the ‘Saturday sessions’ which focus on Baroque fundamentals, discovery of Baroque instruments and styles, improvisation, dance and historical context are open to all – any age, whether you play an instrument or not.

How can I join in?

  • Click here to sign up.
  • There is no set fee to take part in the Sessions and participants are asked to donate what they can, with a recommended donation of £30 per person. No one will be prevented from attending due to financial circumstances.
  • All of the Foundation’s online work is made as accessible as possible, with many of its resources available to all free of charge.
  • The Benedetti Foundation relies solely on donations to carry out its work, and is therefore very grateful to anyone who is in a position to make an additional donation towards the cost of the workshops.
  • Join in on social media using the hashtags #benedettisessions #virtualsessions #benedettibaroque.
  • The Virtual Sessions will all be delivered in English.
  • Click here to view the full schedule.

How can I play in the final concert on Sunday 1 August?

At the end of week 2 of the Baroque Sessions, you will be invited to record and submit your chosen part for the final performance video of La Folia, if you wish to (it’s optional, so no pressure!).

Visit www.benedettifoundation.org to find out more.