Anastasia Tsioulcas writes at NPR Music for “Deceptive Cadence” (http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence). Widely published as a writer on both classical and world music, she is the former North America editor for Gramophone Magazine and the classical music columnist for Billboard. She has also been an on-air contributor to many public radio programs, including WNYC’s Soundcheck, Minnesota Public Radio’s The Savvy Traveler, Public Radio International’s Weekend America, and the BBC’s The World.
You might never tell by her youth or her warm and approachable demeanor, but 26-year-old Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti has already had an extraordinary career. Mentored by Yehudi Menuhin starting at age 10, Benedetti won the BBC Young Musician of the Year Award a decade ago — and, really, that was just a warm-up.
Benedetti has since become an international performer of note: She's recently appeared as soloist with groups like the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony, and she was given the huge honor of playing the last night of the Proms in London last summer. But Benedetti just might be best appreciated in an up-close-and-personal setting, whether she's performing or working with kids, which is one of her greatest passions; she's a proud "big sister" to El Sistema Scotland.
At this Tiny Desk Concert, though, she's simply radiant. Maybe that's partly due to her affable and gracious personality, or to her huge and sweet tone, enhanced by the 1717 Gariel Strad she plays. (It's worth some $10 million.) Or maybe it's the way she lets John Williams' theme from Schindler's List spin out in such aching fashion, or the way she makes room for silence in Bach's Chaconne before tearing deep into its dense warp and weft. In any case, she's enchanting.
- Williams: Theme from 'Schindler's List'
- Bach: Chaconne from the Partita for Solo Violin in D Minor
Producers: Stephen Thompson, Anastasia Tsioulcas; Editor: Denise DeBelius; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Gabriella Garcia-Pardo; photo by Marie McGrory/NPR