Nicola Benedetti and Big Noise pitch perfect at launch of Super Strings session in Aberdeen


World-class violinist Nicola Benedetti has joined talented young Aberdeen musicians to help Big Noise launch a fantastic new series of free Super Strings Sessions across Scotland.

Super Strings Sessions will involve around 350 young string players and are supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Sessions will take place during four days across September and October, culminating in an exciting Festival of Strings Day at the Caird Hall in Dundee on 9 October.

The charity Sistema Scotland is celebrating 10 years of delivering its Big Noise programme, which uses music to transform the lives of children living in disadvantaged communities. It uses the symphony orchestra and learning a musical instrument, via an immersive and intensive programme, as the tools to equip children with a wide range of social and life skills including confidence, resilience and aspiration.

Sistema Scotland and Big Noise are funded and supported by a range of partners including Aberdeen City Council, which is a partner in Big Noise Torry. 

Young people from all across Scotland who play violin, viola, cello and double bass were invited to join Nicola Benedetti, children and inspirational teachers from the four Big Noise centres in Raploch, (Stirling), Govanhill (Glasgow), Torry (Aberdeen) and Douglas (Dundee) to form one-off string ensembles at the sessions. The launch session took place at Aberdeen Arts Centre on Monday.

During the sessions all young people will have the opportunity to play in an ensemble led by Nicola Benedetti, perform with her, and be involved in a Q&A discussion with Nicola about string playing. They will have the chance to experience working with their peers from across the country and share their experiences and opinions on making music in Scotland, and what role they can have in shaping music-making for young people in the future.

At the Festival of Strings in Dundee all young people will have the opportunity to play along in an ensemble led by Nicola Benedetti and experience a performance by her before joining together to perform one ‘Super Strings’ moment.

Nicola Benedetti said: “I am delighted to be in Aberdeen today to launch the first of three Super Strings Sessions with Big Noise. A big thanks to Sistema Scotland for facilitating these Super Strings Sessions and to players of People’s Postcode Lottery for providing the funding to make this project possible.

“I am extremely excited to be working with young people right across the country including children who already attend Big Noise. By attending the sessions, children and young people will not only have fun and make new friends but they will also learn to collaborate. I will be working to help improve their playing technique, freedom of expression and command of their instrument so that each element combines individually, and within an ensemble, to create the fullest sound possible.

“Being a ‘big sister’ to Big Noise is dear to my heart and I’m fiercely proud of the work I’ve done with Sistema Scotland over the past 10 years including the many visits I have made to perform with the children and learn how they have progressed. What Big Noise has achieved in that time in terms of both social transformation and musical excellence, their passion for teaching, commitment to the children and work on the musical curriculum, is phenomenal!

“I believe that most of the profound thinkers of written history agreed that music and the arts are one of the most important skills you can learn and be exposed to in your youth. “

Councillor Douglas Lumsden, Leader of Aberdeen City Council, said: “We are delighted to welcome Nicola Benedetti, Big Noise Torry, and the Super Strings Sessions to Aberdeen.

“I am particularly pleased that we have Aberdeen Music Service as well as young people from all over Scotland taking part in such an exciting project which will give hundreds of musicians a rich musical learning experience in a variety of different ways.

“Big Noise Torry has had a tremendous impact on the community here and Aberdeen City Council is proud to be the major financial stakeholder in the programme. Big Noise is transforming not only the lives of the children and young people taking part but also the entire community.

“We were delighted that the independent evaluation report by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH) revealed that Big Noise Torry has enhanced participants’ ability to learn in school, as well as improving emotional wellbeing.”

Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: "Over the last five years players of People’s Postcode Lottery have supported the powerful work of Sistema Scotland. We have seen first-hand the impact of the work and the confidence it inspires in so many young people engaging with the Big Noise programmes across Scotland.

“Players’ support is now enabling children and young people to come together for these Super Strings Sessions to benefit from the extraordinary commitment and inspiration of Nicola Benedetti. We wish all participants a wonderful experience.”

Nicola Killean, Chief Executive of Sistema Scotland, said: “Young people coming together from each of our Big Noise centres and being able to join together with other young string players from across Scotland and make music and share experiences, is a fantastic way to celebrate our 10th birthday.

“The objectives of the Super Strings Sessions are three fold. The first is Social. We want to nurture collaboration among the young people and help them to develop networks. Second is Artistic. Nicola Benedetti will help the children to create a Big Sound by giving them techniques to express themselves while playing and take command of their instrument. Finally, Empowerment. We are holding workshops with some of the children to help develop a shared voice for young string players in Scotland so that they can have their say on improvements for the future.

“Nicola Benedetti is a wonderful supporter of Big Noise and she is a fantastic role model for our young people to aspire to. Big Noise children are really looking forward to working, playing and learning from their ‘Big Sister’, alongside young string players from right across Scotland who may be learning through their local music service.”

For more information about the sessions visit https://www.makeabignoise.org.uk/news-events/super-strings/