Violinist Nicola Benedetti brings a recital program to Cal Performances this Sunday that includes the West Coast premiere of a solo work by Wynton Marsalis called Fiddle Dance Suite. The Scottish violinist previously worked with Marsalis as he was writing a violin concerto she premiered in 2015. In addition to the concert with pianist Alexei Grynyuk, she’ll be giving a master class to students from UC Berkeley’s Department of Music on Saturday evening.
There’s more about the concert at the Cal Performances website.
“It’s definitely a program of four distinct… I don’t want to say opposites, but none of the four pieces really have anything in common. It’s a program of four contrasts,” Benedetti says. Two of them are unaccompanied: the Marsalis suite and Bach’s famous Chaconne from the Partita number 2: “The Bach is a meditative, very somber, and internal experience. Wynton’s is extremely colorful, very… a very distinct story telling.” The other two works are sonatas, by Prokofiev, and Richard Strauss. “The Prokofiev is like a world of fantasy, and that kind of angular – but also childlike – innocence that is home to Prokofiev more than anybody else in the world. And then of course the Strauss is… it’s just romance… unashamed romance, it’s just extremely explosive.” She says that doing a traditional masterclass is less usual for her to do than large-scale workshops for a wider variety of ages, but has been a passionate advocate for music education for many years. “I have a little bit of an evangelical side to me, which is wanting to proselytize the experience of music, even if it doesn’t ever go into the realms of professional music-making. But equally, I just want to give those one-off experiences to people. You know, the kind of uplifting, collective music-making moment.” She’s recently been honored again by the Queen – becoming in January a CBE, or Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (she was already an MBE, Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.) ” It can serve as a light shone on certain causes, but also just an added bit of inspiration to you to continue to do what you do. So it’s always like a huge shock, and then you just get back to work, basically.”