Nicola Benedetti Global Violin Sessions Begin Nov. 13

November 6, 2020, 6:26 PM · Yet again, Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti has devised a new way to spice up the online lives of violinists around the world during this pandemic period. This time, The Benedetti Foundation is presenting the Global Violin Sessions: A Cultural Exchange, Part One.

Running from Nov. 13 through Dec. 13, the sessions will take a short tune written by American trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, then pass it to seven violinists around the world that represent six different violin traditions. (Incidentally, Marsalis is the composer who wrote the Violin Concerto that earned Benedetti a 2020 Grammy for Best Classical Instrumental Solo.)

Nicola Benedetti Global Sessions
Nicola Benedetti and Wynton Marsalis, with Nemanja Radulovic, Roby Lakatos, Pekka Kuusisto and Tessa Lark. Illustration by Violinist.com.

Benedetti will first present Marsalis's tune, played in its plainest form. The tune then will go to the seven violinists: Tessa Lark, Mark and Maggie O’Connor, Roby Lakatos, Geza Hosszu-Legocky, Pekka Kuusisto and Nemanja Radulovic. Those violinists each will rework the piece into their own musical culture and style by changing rhythms, playing around with notes, experimenting with instrumentation and adding various colors and effects. They will teach the techniques of their traditions to participants, using a combination of live and pre-recorded lessons. Click here to sign up to be a participant - students, violinists and teachers of all ages and stages are invited to apply.

"What happens if you take one tune and send it around the world? The Global Violin is about to start to find out, and we can’t wait!" Benedetti said. "Music has always shown us the similarities and diversities of the human story with nuance, clarity and accuracy. It gently but undeniably states a worldview that requires no rebuffing. There is space in the world for us all. There is space for our individualities and particulars and differences. We are all allowed to be who we are and have love and acceptance of that identity. But how often do we demonstrate acceptance, curiosity and openness towards the story and cultures of others?"

Countries represented in this round of "Global Violin Sessions" include the United States, Hungary, Finland and Serbia. Representing the United States are Tessa Lark, teaching the bluegrass tradition; and Mark and Maggie O’Connor, teaching American folk fiddle tradition. Two violinists will represent Hungary, with Roby Lakatos demonstrating classical, jazz and folk idioms of Hungary; and Geza Hosszu-Legocky representing Hungarian gypsy-Roma traditions. Hosszu-Legocky will be joined by his award-winning group, the Five-DeViLs. Pekka Kuusisto will teach music inspired by the traditional music of Finland; and representing Serbia, Nemanja Radulovic will teach music inspired by the Eastern European folk tradition.

During weekends from Nov. 21 to Dec. 6, the Foundation will work live with participants to prepare the repertoire. Throughout the week, pre-recorded tutorials will be made available, with short practice schedules coinciding with the release of the tutorials. "Explore & Discover" on Saturdays will offer the opportunity to meet the artists, take part in question and answer sessions, learn about the violin traditions, and participate in performance sessions. "Prepare & Perform" on Sundays will focus on violinists, from beginners to advanced players.

A final film will be put together by Wynton Marsalis, with support from the Ayoub Sisters, with a series of small compositions based on folk traditions of America, Hungary, Finland and Serbia. The film, to be shown during the final weekend of the Sessions, will bring these tunes together and take a visual and aural journey around these cultures, through the lens of violin music.

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