New Festival Director appointed
The world-renowned violinist, educator and arts & culture advocate Nicola Benedetti CBE has become the Director Designate of the Edinburgh International Festival, and will become Festival Director on 1 October 2022. In taking the role she will be 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, a global performer and regular contributor at the International Festival, most recently with her 2021 Festival residency. The GRAMMY and Brit Award-winning violinist was also 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.
Reflecting on the role, Nicola said:
I am deeply honoured to contribute to the long and rich history of the Edinburgh International Festival and the cultural landscape of Scotland. This festival was founded on principles of reconciliation and the ideals of art transcending political and cultural fracture. Following in the footsteps of the wonderful achievements of Fergus Linehan and his predecessors, I will uphold these values and greatly look forward to serving this festival, its mission of cultural exchanges, and the people of Scotland.
Born in the Scottish town of Irvine, of Italian heritage, Nicola Benedetti began violin lessons at the age of four, studied at Yehudi Menuhin School and has since toured internationally with some of the world’s greatest orchestras and conductors.
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.
Nicola takes the role following a successful eight-year tenure of Fergus Linehan, who was last year awarded the Edinburgh Award for his innovative contribution to the arts and Edinburgh’s cultural heritage. His festivals have featured many of the world’s leading theatre, dance, orchestral and chamber music ensembles and have expanded the programme to include large-scale, free events and music genres previously underrepresented in the Festival. Along with the International Festival team, he successfully guided the Festival through the challenging years of the pandemic.
Keith Skeoch, the Festival’s Chair of the Board of Trustees said:
It is such a pleasure to welcome Nicola Benedetti as both the first woman and the first Scottish director of the Edinburgh International Festival. In many ways she reflects the spirit of this festival; internationally recognised and respected but Scottish to her core, she's dedicated to advocating world-class music making and innovating new ways to bring it to audiences. As an artist, her string of collaborators reads like a who's who of the world of classical music and as an educator she has reached tens of thousands worldwide. I have no doubt that she will bring a wealth of new ideas to the organisation and build on Fergus' exceptional work from the last eight years.
Rt Hon. Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister of Scotland said:
The Edinburgh International Festival has a worldwide reputation for its excellent work in bringing world-leading artists together, celebrating the performing arts, and promoting Scotland’s rich culture and heritage to an international audience. I’m sure that people across the country are looking forward to supporting the Festival’s full in-person return after two years, and welcoming visitors and artists from around the world to Scotland. I welcome Nicola Benedetti’s appointment as Director - especially as she becomes the first woman to ever hold the role. Her experience in promoting Scotland’s cultural scene to audiences around the world will be invaluable and I wish her every success.