THE world's best-selling classical violinist, Nigel Kennedy, will be playing in Aylesbury tonight with Oxford Philomusica. Here he gives advice to budding violinists and explains what influences him.
This is the fourth concert Nigel has taken part in with the Oxford Philomusica, under conductor Marios Papadopoulos.
Tonight the concert will start with the orchestra performing Brahms Symphony no. 3 in F major op 90 then Nigel will take to the stage to play Beethoven's sparkling Violin Concerto in D major op 61.
So why did he choose to play this particular piece? He said: "It's one of the best concertos in the violin repertoire and I love exploring all the improvisory possibilities of the cadenza."
Nigel was born in Brighton and was a boy prodigy- he could pick out tunes on the piano after just hearing the records.
But he said he didn't spot his talent at first: "My mum and Yehudi [Menuhin] spotted it."
Yehudi was an American-born violinist and conductor who is widely considered one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century. Nigel was one of his pupils.
But funnily enough when he was first started playing music the violin wasn't his first choice.
He said: "I preferred the piano. My mum was a fantastic player and she used to stick me under the piano in my basket as a baby. I suppose that's why I like loud music."
Following the Yehudi Menuhin School of Music, he studied at the Juilliard School in New York with Dorothy DeLay.
It was in 1984 he made his recording début with Elgar's Violin Concerto and his recording of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons with the English Chamber Orchestra in 1989 sold more than two million copies.
Nigel has re-written the Four Seasons for a band and his orchestra, which will be out next year.
He has, of course, released many albums over the years making him the best-selling classical violinist.
And for Nigel, he is most proud of his improvising. He said: "Stéphane Grappelli introduced me to it at an early age. A fantastic mentor and I am grateful to Menuhin for introducing us."
Stéphane Grappelli was a French jazz violinist who has been called "the grandfather of jazz violinists".
And Nigel, who is 57, prefers to play with others. He said: "With a band or an orchestra. I like to be part of the communicating process, whether it's with the audience or my musicians."
And tonight he is playing once more with Oxford Philomusica, which was first launched in 1998.
Its founder and music director Marios Papadopoulos was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year's Honours List 2014 for services to music in Oxford.
Nigel said: "Marios is a great guy - he's done amazing things with his orchestra and I love these musicians. I performed with them last year and we had such a great of a time we decided to do it again."
He has worked with a huge number of different orchestras and performers over the years.
In 2000 Nigel released an album called Kennedy Plays Bach, which was released as DVD in 2006.
He said: "Bach is the backbone of my day. He's the greatest composer of them all. His music is central to my practice routine - I'm currently performing Bach sonatas around the world and I'll soon be recording them."
But it hasn't been all plain sailing. In 1992, neck surgery forced Nigel to retire for a few years.
He said: "I played cello when I had surgery on my neck and I also like playing piano - I compose at the keyboard. I also like to sing but other people say I'm slightly better at the violin."
When he is at home in the UK, he walks Bully the bulldog and Huxley the weimeramer on Hampstead Heath or the Sussex Downs. He also has a house in the Polish mountains and he hikes there in the summer.
But finally what advice would he give to budding violinists?
He said: "Don't be a machine. Too many of them all sound the same with no personality or imagination."
Nigel Kennedy and Oxford Philomusica is at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre tonight (May 30) at 7.30pm. Tickets are £15 to £38.90 from www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury or call 0844 8717607. There are only a small number of restricted view seats available.
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