Page last updated at 09:22 GMT, Monday, 12 October 2009 10:22 UK

Top violinist aids musical youth

Nicola Benedetti
Nicola Benedetti said the project was taking classical music to new audiences

Acclaimed violinist Nicola Benedetti is lending her support to a groundbreaking children's music project.

The Scottish musician will be on hand to advise and inspire youngsters involved in the Big Noise orchestra in Stirling's Raploch area.

More than 250 nursery school and primary children are taking part in the charitable project.

The programme aims to boost the life chances of those in deprived areas through music.

The project, the first of its kind in the UK, was set up last year by the charity Sistema Scotland.

Sistema Scotland and its Big Noise orchestra are demolishing barriers and taking classical music to a whole new audience
Nicola Benedetti

It is modelled on Venezuela's hugely successful El Sistema movement, which has brought music to thousands of youngsters from poor socio-economic backgrounds.

Benedetti, a former winner of the BBC's Young Musician of the Year title, will be a regular visitor to Raploch, playing for and working with the children.

She said: "Venezuela's El Sistema has caused a lot of excitement and I was absolutely thrilled and proud when I heard an orchestra had started in Scotland.

"Sistema Scotland and its Big Noise orchestra are demolishing barriers and taking classical music to a whole new audience.

"That's something I feel passionately about so I just had to get involved. I can't wait to meet the children."

Special education

Sistema Scotland chairman Richard Holloway said he hoped Benedetti would become a "musical big sister" to the orchestra.

"Nicola Benedetti is one of the biggest stars in classical music," he said. "She is the perfect inspirational figure for the children, and we are extremely pleased she is becoming involved.

"We know she has a busy work schedule, so we are most grateful to her for making this commitment.

"The children themselves will help choose a name for the role. We want to honour Nicola for her wonderful achievements in music, as well as using her to inspire our children."

The Big Noise orchestra currently features stringed instruments only, but it is expected to expand into a full symphony orchestra over the next couple of years.

Sessions take place in Raploch's Community Campus. During term time, experts work with nursery children, primary one pupils and children with special educational needs during school hours.

Children in P2-P5 attend an after-school programme three days a week.

Television cameras have followed the first year of the scheme for the BBC documentary Big Noise in a Wee Place, being aired on BBC Two at 2115 BST.

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