Festival Director Nicola Benedetti
‘Here, in Edinburgh each August, we come to make connections. We all need to feel a part of something much larger than ourselves and as strangers we unite in our mutual curiosity. Where do we go from here? Above all, we go to you, and with you. This is your Festival. It’s you, our audiences, who will create its spirit of joy and discovery. I am so excited to go on the journey with you.’
Nicola Benedetti, Festival Director
Nicola Benedetti is the Festival Director for the Edinburgh International Festival. She took up the position in October 2022 having previously had a long-standing relationship with the Festival as a performer, including a residency in 2021. Nicola is both the first Scottish and the first female Festival Director since the Festival began in 1947.
Nicola is one of the most influential classical artists of today, performing internationally as a violinist. Born in the Scottish town of Irvine, of Italian heritage, Nicola began violin lessons at the age of four, studied at Yehudi Menuhin School and has since toured with some of the world’s greatest orchestras and conductors.
She has won GRAMMY and Brit Awards and was named BBC Music Magazine’s 2021 ‘Personality of the Year,’ awarded in part for her online support of musicians during the pandemic, a reflection of her passionate work as an ambassador for music education.
In December 2020, Nicola formed the Benedetti Baroque Orchestra and regularly champions the commissioning of new works, including the recent violin concertos by Mark Simpson and Wynton Marsalis (which won a GRAMMY in 2020). Nicola was awarded the Queen’s Medal for Music in 2017, the youngest ever recipient, and has received nine honorary degrees to date.
Nicola formalised her commitment to music education in 2019 when she established The Benedetti Foundation. 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 April 2023, Nicola announced her first programme as Festival Director. The 2023 Festival asks the question 'Where do we go from here?', inspired by Dr Martin Luther King Jrs' book Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?. Reflecting the themes of the book, the Festival is programmed around three central invitations; Community over chaos, Hope in the face of adversity and A perspective that's not one's own.