Violinist Nicola Benedetti to be honoured by Edinburgh for her impact on the city

The world-renowned violinist has been performing on city’s stages since she was 12
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Violinist Nicola Benedetti is to follow in the footsteps of JK Rowling, Ian Rankin, Chris Hoy, Ken Buchanan and Alexander McCall Smith after being named as the next recipient of one of Edinburgh's highest honours.

The award-winning musician, who was appointed director of the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) last year, has been named the next recipient of the Edinburgh Award in recognition of her impact on the city.

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Benedetti first performed at the Usher Hall when she was 12. She was propelled to fame when she won the BBC Young Musician of the Year title at the same venue when she was 16.

She has been a regular performer at the International Festival throughout a career that has seen her performing in concert halls all over the world and was an EIF musician in residence in 2021 – the first in-person event staged after the Covid pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2021 festival.

Benedetti has been unveiled as the next recipient weeks after overseeing her first EIF programme since she became both the first female and first Scottish director of the event since its launch in 1947. She will have her handprints set in stone outside the City Chambers and presented with a “Loving Cup” from the city.

The Edinburgh Award was instigated in 2007 to honour individuals who have made a “a real and lasting impact on the city", and brought national and international attention on the Scottish capital.

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Benedetti, who set up her own music education charity four years ago, is one of the key backers of a bid to transform the former Royal High School on Calton Hill into a National Centre for Music. She previously launched a campaign to pay for a long-awaited refurbishment of the Queen’s Hall, one of the EIF’s main venues.

The Edinburgh Award is overseen by the city council, with the Lord Provost chairing a panel, made up of councillors, voluntary organisations and businesses who choose who to honour based on public nominations.

Benedetti will be only the fourth woman to get the Edinburgh Award after the Harry Potter author, the artist Elizabeth Blackadder and Ann Budge, the chairwoman of Heart of Midlothian Football Club, and the second youngest recipient after Sir Chris Hoy.

Benedetti said: "I’m deeply honoured to receive the Edinburgh Award and humbled to join the incredible list of individuals who have contributed to the cultural fabric of this city. I am grateful to the city for recognising the importance of the arts and their contribution to our way of life.

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"As my journey with the Edinburgh International Festival deepens, this award, as well as the support of the people of this city, strengthens my dedication to our mission: to continue to welcome people from all walks of life into our home, and to give them artistic experiences they will never forget."

Robert Aldridge, Edinburgh’s Lord Provost, said: “Nicola Benedetti deservedly follows in the footsteps of some of the finest individuals associated with our great city. From heading up one of the world’s most important cultural celebrations in the Edinburgh International Festival, to being a globally renowned musician in her own right, she has represented the capital with pride, dedication, and skill.

"Nicola is also one of the youngest ever recipients of the Edinburgh Award, which shows the measure and scale of her talent and achievements.”

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