Karina Canellakis & Nicola Benedetti
Scriabin ecstasy with extra punch, Stravinsky’s memorial for Rimsky-Korsakov, a soaring Boulanger & Szymanowski's enchanting violin concerto
Igor Stravinsky “Chant funèbre” (Funeral Song) for orchestra, Op. 5
(im Gedenken an Nikolai Rimski-Korsakow)
Lili Boulanger “D’un soir triste” für Orchester
Karol Szymanowski Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 35
Alexander Skrjabin “Le Poème de l’extase”, Op. 54 –
Sinfonie Nr. 4 op. 54
Karina Canellakis - Conductor
Nicola Benedetti - Violin
It created a sensation when Stravinsky’s Opus 5 Chant funèbre, long believed to be lost, resurfaced in 2015 after more than a hundred years of slumber. The score, which had vanished since its premiere in 1909, demonstrates the 26-year-old Russian positioned stylistically right in between his teacher Rimsky-Korsakov and the imminent revolutions of his ballet music. The extent to which music history was seething at the time and pushing toward new shores can also be heard in the sheer effervescence of the Poem of Ecstasy by Stravinsky’s compatriot Scriabin, composed in 1908 during the same time, but following a completely different path. The violin arpeggios are no less intense, and all the more refined in the exquisite First Violin Concerto by Polish composer Szymanowski from 1916. Any kind of academic rigidness, which afflicted many of his contemporaries, is far removed from this magnificent work by Szymanowski which Nicola Benedetti presents to us – for the first time with the RSB. Bathed in such warm light, Nadia Boulanger’s Rome Prize submission floats through the Philharmonie as a beguilingly beautiful intermezzo. Together with the solid presence of its Principal Guest Conductor Karina Canellakis, the RSB wishes you a pleasant summer.
Karina Canellakis - Conductor
Born in New York, Karina Canellakis took up the role of Principal Guest Conductor of the RSB at the beginning of the 2019/2020 season, also assuming a long-term collaboration with the orchestra alongside Vladimir Jurowski. Karina and the orchestra first performed together in September 2017 at the Mecklenberg-Vorpommern Festival and quickly built a strong rapport. Her successful first season astonished audiences, notably with the critically acclaimed performances of Beethoven’s ninth symphony at the RSB’s popular New Years’ Concerts.
As the Principal Guest Conductor, Karina Canellakis will establish her own thematic narrative throughout each season. She will conduct two concerts of the RSB in the 2020/2021 season. On 29 November 2020, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 will precede Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5. Brahms fancied Hungarian sounds in music his whole life. That’s why he would probably welcome Frank Peter Zimmermann, who will interpret the Rhapsody No. 1 by Béla Bartók, with open arms. On 24 April 2021 the violinist will take the audiences on a journey from this unprecedented firework of Csárdás back to the Czech Republic, playing the breathtaking Suite Concertante by Bohuslav Martinů. Karina Canellakis will open the concert with the passionate tone poem „Jealosy“ by Leoš Janáček.
Karina Canellakis, who has Greek and Russian ancestry and speaks English as well as German, French, and Italian, began her musical career as a violinist. In the course of her education, she became a member of the orchestra academy of the Berliner Philharmoniker, where she was encouraged by Sir Simon Rattle to devote herself more to conducting. She followed this advice with great enthusiasm and won the Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award in 2016. With emotionally charged performances, technical brilliance, and interpretative depth, she quickly made a name for herself at orchestras and at opera houses in the USA, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
In addition to her involvement with the RSB, Karina Canellakis took up her first position as Chief Conductor at the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest of the Netherlands in autumn 2019, with whom she will launch a cycle of Janáček operas in January 2021, starting with „Jenůfa“.
In the 2020/2021 season, the charismatic conductor will realise some remarkable projects, such as her début with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Deutsche Oper Berlin (Mozart’s „Le nozze de Figaro“). Again, she will be on the rostrum of the London und Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony, Seattle and Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Wiener Symphoniker.
Nicola Benedetti - Violin
Nicola Benedetti is one of the most sought-after violinists of her generation. Her ability to captivate audiences with her innate musicianship and spirited 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.
With concerto performances at the heart of her career, Nicola is in much demand with major orchestras and conductors across the globe. Conductors with whom Nicola has worked include Vladimir Ashkenazy, Jiří Bělohlávek, Stéphane Denève, Christoph Eschenbach, James Gaffigan, Hans Graf, Valery Gergiev, Alan Gilbert, Jakub Hrůša, Kirill Karabits, Andrew Litton, Kristjan Järvi, Vladimir Jurowski, Cristian Măcelaru, Zubin Mehta, Andrea Marcon, Peter Oundjian, Vasily Petrenko, Donald Runnicles, Thomas Søndergård, Krzysztof Urbański, Juraj Valcua, Edo de Waart, Pinchas Zukerman and Jaap van Zweden.
Nicola enjoys working with the highest level of orchestras including collaborations with the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre, Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Camerata Salzburg, Czech Philharmonic, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and National Symphony Orchestra of Washington D.C.
In the 2019/20 season, Nicola makes her debut with the Wiener Symphoniker and undergoes a tour of Asia with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Robin Ticciati. She will also reunite with Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and embark on a tour with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra led by Thomas Søndergård. She performs the Marsalis Violin Concerto with the San Francisco Symphony and James Gaffigan and with Cristian Măcelaru firstly with the Gothenburg Symphony and then again with the Orchestre de Paris. She will come together again with Karina Canellakis firstly with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin and later with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Similarly, she joins Michael Tilson Thomas for concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra and then again with the New World Symphony in Miami. Nicola has also been appointed as the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s Artist in Residence for 2020 which will include a concerto performance under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis, a European tour and education sessions and masterclasses.
Last season’s highlights include collaborations with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, San Francisco Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Frankfurter Museumsorchester, Toscanini Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra with Pablo Heras-Casado. She also undertook tours with the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra and National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain culminating in a concert at the BBC Proms. During the summer, joined forces with Iván Fischer to perform with the Budapest Festival Orchestra at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl and performed the Marsalis Violin Concerto at the Aspen Music Festival under Robert Spano and at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music with Cristian Măcelaru.
With her regular duo partner pianist Alexei Grynyuk, Nicola frequently performs recitals in the world’s leading concert halls and festivals with most recent highlights including Wigmore Hall, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rome, Copenhagen, Dortmund, Ludwigshafen, Bielefeld and Kiel. Nicola is also a devoted chamber musician and collaborates with cellist Leonard Elschenbroich and pianist Alexei Grynyuk, who have been performing as a trio since 2008. Past performances include London’s Cadogan Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Edinburgh Festival, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Frankfurt Alte Oper, Ravinia Festival, New York’s 92nd Street Y and Hong Kong City Hall. In November 2018 the trio embarked on a month-long Australian tour giving 9 performances in 7 cities. This season the trio reunites for a European tour in the Spring of 2020.
Nicola has continued her role as a dedicated, passionate ambassador and leader in music education. She has reached thousands of young people through workshops, masterclasses, partnership projects, and school visits, providing key moments of inspiration for young instrumentalists, as well as focused, high quality teaching and guidance. Nicola has connected with teachers, aiming to support their practice, highlight their essential role in society – especially during a period when many jobs have been under threat – and encourage collaboration and mutual learning. This commitment to supporting the UK’s music practitioners was underlined in July 2018, when Nicola took over as President of the European String Teachers Association. She is formalising her vision and expanding her commitment to the education of young people and the supporting of music teachers by establishing a charitable organisation: The Benedetti Foundation.
Nicola continues to hold key positions in a number of the country’s most established and high quality youth music organisations including the National Children’s Orchestras (Vice President), Sistema Scotland (Big Sister), National Youth Orchestras of Scotland’s Junior Orchestra (Patron), Music in Secondary Schools Trust (Patron), Junior Conservatoire at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Patron) and many more.
Winner of Best Female Artist at both 2012 and 2013 Classical BRIT Awards, Nicola records exclusively for Decca (Universal Music). Her most recent recording features premiere recordings of two works written especially for her by jazz musician Wynton Marsalis: Violin Concerto in D and Fiddle Dance Suite for Solo Violin. Her past recordings on Universal/Deutsche Grammophon include a varied catalogue of works from Shostakovich & Glazunov Violin Concertos to Szymanowski Concerto (London Symphony Orchestra/Daniel Harding) to Homecoming; A Scottish Fantasy, which made Nicola the first solo British violinist since the 1990s to enter the Top 20 of the Official U.K. Albums Chart.
Nicola attracts an enormous amount of worldwide media attention following the various facets of her extraordinary career and her international television appearances have been wide and varied including performing at the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games to a live audience of approximately 40,000 and TV viewing audience of 9.4 million people.
Nicola was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2019 New Year Honours List, awarded the Queen’s Medal for Music in 2017, the youngest ever recipient, and was appointed as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2013 in recognition of her international music career and work with musical charities throughout the United Kingdom. In addition, Nicola has received eight honorary degrees to date.
Born in Scotland of Italian heritage, Nicola began violin lessons at the age of five with Brenda Smith. In 1997, she entered the Yehudi Menuhin School, where she studied with Natasha Boyarskaya. Upon leaving, she continued her studies with Maciej Rakowski and then Pavel Vernikov, and continues to work with multiple acclaimed teachers and performers.
Nicola plays the Gariel Stradivarius (1717), courtesy of Jonathan Moulds.