Nicola Benedetti Strings Festival in partnership with ESTA

06 May 2017

ESTA and Saffron Hall announce the Nicola Benedetti Strings Festival: a weekend of talks, workshops and practical sessions for teachers, students and families

The European String Teachers Association (ESTA) and Saffron Hall joined forces with Nicola Benedetti on 6 and 7 May to present a weekend of activities and events devoted to the teaching and learning of stringed instruments.

Presented by ESTA in partnership with Saffron Hall, this two-day festival was the first collaboration between the two organisations, and has been designed in partnership with Nicola Benedetti to bring teachers and students under one roof for a weekend packed full of inspiring ideas, provocative discussion and knowledge sharing.

The Nicola Benedetti Strings Festival built upon Nicola’s existing relationship with Saffron Hall’s Learning & Participation programme, and her own advocacy of the importance of music and other expressive arts in education. Each season, Nicola devotes a significant part of her time to education visits and workshops throughout the country and worldwide.

Across the weekend, Nicola delivered a number of workshops, discussions and performance sessions alongside acclaimed guest teachers including Andrea Gajic, Steve Bingham, Simon Cartledge and William Bruce. Nicola drew from her personal experiences as a student, with observations that are relevant to string players and teachers of all ages and ability.

Saturday 6 May: Family Day
Music making, workshops and seminars, aimed at string learners of all ages and abilities. Nicola delivered a number of sessions looking at healthy approaches to the physicality of playing, drawing on her personal experiences as a young student. An Open String Orchestra session was an opportunity to play in a string orchestra led by Nicola, putting some ideas into action.

Sunday 7 May: Professional Development Day for String Teachers
An opportunity to share experiences and pedagogic insights into teaching and playing. Nicola held discussions on developing strong technique whilst developing musicianship, her approach to using repertoire to combine exercise and study, finishing with a special “Question Time Panel” – a chance for teachers to ask their burning questions to a distinguished panel.

Throughout the weekend, the Saffron Hall foyer was also be busy with:
- Busking competition (Nicola to judge the final!)
- Drop-in clinics for students, teachers and parents
- Pop-up concerts
- Music publishers demonstrating their learning recourses
- Instrument “have-a-go” sessions
- Music technology labs
- Merchandise on sale

Nicola Benedetti says:

“I am delighted to be returning to Saffron Hall for the Strings Festival in May. We will be discussing everything strings related - it should be an informative, fun and interesting event for families, musicians, their parents and, above all, teachers.”

Philip Aird, Chief Executive Officer of ESTA says:

“ESTA is thrilled that this new partnership begins with a weekend of inclusive music making and sharing of ideas. ESTA believes in the possibility for music to change lives; that every child has the right to learn music; and that as teachers we are responsible for the future generations of musicians and music lovers.”

Natalie Ellis, Director Learning & Participation at Saffron Hall says:

“We are delighted to be collaborating with ESTA for the first time to deliver this action-packed weekend for string-enthusiasts, young and old. Saffron Hall remains committed to establishing accessible and inclusive progression pathways for young musicians and providing top-quality support to the teaching community. We are grateful to Nicola Benedetti for her generous and invaluable ongoing contribution to the Saffron Hall Learning & Participation programme, and to the music education platform more broadly.”

About ESTA
ESTA is dedicated to the needs of sting teachers and to improving the quality of string teaching at every level, from toddler to conservatoire. We offer generous financial benefits to members, including insurance and legal cover, funding to put on local events and discounts to ESTA-organised seminars. We provide support and professional development through our website and our magazines, Arco and Jesta, and by organising events, residential courses and an accredited Postgraduate certificate in string teaching qualification.

About Nicola Benedetti

Nicola Benedetti is one of the most sought after violinists of her generation and a committed campaigner for music and arts education. In 2013 she founded the Benedetti Sessions, a workshop, rehearsal, masterclass and performance project designed to engage, challenge, inspire and nurture young musicians of all abilities. To date, the Sessions, with Nicola at the helm, has collaborated on projects with the Royal Albert Hall, The Cheltenham Festival, London Music Masters, Wigmore Hall, Glasgow Life/UNECSO, The Royal College of Music and a summer programme hosted by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Her ability to captivate audiences with her innate musicianship and dynamic presence, coupled with her wide appeal as a high profile advocate for classical music, has made her one of the most influential classical artists of today. Winner of Best Female Artist at both 2012 and 2013 Classical BRIT Awards, Nicola records exclusively for Decca (Universal Music).

The enormous success of Homecoming; A Scottish Fantasy, made Nicola the first solo British violinist since the 1990s to enter the Top 20 of the Official UK Albums Chart. She is credited with broadening the appeal of classical music to young and new audiences through her extensive education work and appearances at events such the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony and iTunes Festival. Nicola was awarded the MBE in the 2013 New Year Honours, in recognition of her international music career and work with musical charities throughout the UK.