Nicola Benedetti says Edinburgh's new National Centre for Music can be a beacon of 21st century music education

Violinist Nicola Benedetti has said the new National Centre for Music to be created at Edinburgh’s old Royal High School offers an unprecedented opportunity to enrich the cultural life of Scotland.

Friday, 8th October 2021, 4:55 am

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And she said it could be a beacon for 21st century music education.

Her Benedetti Foundation is one of the partners in the project to transform the iconic former school at Calton Hill into what they say will be a new platform for musical collaborations, within the building, online and out in the wider community.

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Nicola Benedetti says: "We are entering a rare and beautiful moment." Picture: John Devlin

After securing a long-term lease of the historic site from the city council, the Royal High School Preservation Trust said it was thrilled it could now press ahead with its plan for a world-class centre for music education and public performance to benefit the whole of Scotland. Trust chair William Gray Muir praised the other partners, St Mary’s Music School, the Benedetti Foundation and the International Music and Performing Arts Charitable Trust (Impact) Scotland and thanked philanthropist Carol Colburn Grigor and her Dunard Fund for the £55m funding for the project.

"We would also like to recognise the efforts of everyone who has spoken up for conserving and protecting the former Royal High and all those who have voiced their support for our aims,” he added.

Ms Benedetti said: “Music, when created, played and listened to with integrity, allows us to strip away all that separates us and urges us to see and feel what unites us. The National Centre for Music presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to enrich the cultural life of Scotland and to serve as a beacon of true 21st century music education for the world to see.

“Thanks to the generosity and vision of Carol Colburn Grigor and Dunard Fund, we have the means, as well as the collective will and dedication from all walks of Scottish life, to realise a revolutionary vision.

An image showing how the new National Centre for Music will look from above. Image: Richard Murphy Architects

"We are entering a rare and beautiful moment in Scotland’s history, where a phenomenal combination of individuals and organisations are tirelessly working together to achieve the highest possible inclusivity and excellence in music, all equally committed to enriching our national story and legacy.

"Furthermore, we have a new governmental commitment to free instrumental tuition for Scotland’s young people. We are not working uphill and, when it comes to Arts and Culture, this is not to be taken for granted.

“The National Centre for Music will be a warm and welcoming place for all ages, abilities and backgrounds, where people can come together and be uplifted through participation in and appreciation of music. It will be home to a comprehensive celebration of musical traditions and interests from around the world and will embrace a diverse range of teachers, ideologies, pedagogies, students, pupils and audiences. I have never been more optimistic about the potential of Scotland’s musical and cultural future.”

Dr Kenneth Taylor, headteacher at St Mary’s Music School, which will eventually move to the site, said it was “a truly exciting day” for the school.

"Not only does it bring us a huge step closer to having a new home for the school; it also places us at the centre of a project that will deliver and enhance world-class music education for people from all backgrounds across Scotland in a setting that will be second to none.”

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