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 HANNAH FURNESS writes in The Telegraph:

Classical musicians should learn from rock stars to overcome snobbery engage more with their audiences, Nigel Kennedy has argued.

Kennedy, the violinist, said the classical establishment had frowned on audience interaction, with musicians too often expected to snub the people who have paid to see them.

Now, he said, they should follow the lead of pop and rock music to work with their audiences, talking to them mid-performance and letting them show their appreciation.

Kennedy, famous for his eccentric dress sense and lively stage persona, will soon embark on a tour playing the music of Jimi Hendrix.

Nigel, playing at the Hay Festival

"The classical music world has to learn from rock – the way it involves the audience,” he told the Mail on Sunday.

 “Jimi was a showman and the audience embraced that. But even talking to the audience was considered out of order [in classical concerts].

“You just didn’t do it. Acknowledge the people who had paid? Dreadful. Whatever next?

 I got all sorts of negativity.

“Critics said I should be playing Beethoven and Bach. But those guys made cosmic music – and so did Jimi. He was open to jazz and classical too. I rank them all alongside each other.

'Shocking, I know. The audiences were OK but the establishment looked down their noses and the reviewers were trolling me before the word was invented."

(Nigel will be touring his Hendrix programme during the month of September)

‘When I heard Jimi Hendrix, he made me want to play the violin like a guitar': Why Nigel Kennedy is heading out on the road with the music of the Purple Haze star




At 58, with greying hair, he’s more wise old sage than wild child these days. But the violin maestro is still a rock ’n’ roll rebel at heart – which is why he’s going on tour with the music of the Purple Haze guitar star.

Each, in his own way, is notorious: Jimi Hendrix, the tragic bad-boy rock ’n’ roll guitarist, and Nigel Kennedy, the fiddling firebrand who upset the world of classical music with his maverick antics.

Now, however, 45 years after the sudden death of Hendrix from a cocktail of drink and drugs in a Notting Hill apartment, the two musical legends are to come together – united in a heady trio of concerts where Kennedy will play the late axe god’s songs.

It is not for the first time, and it won’t be the last, for Kennedy believes the world of classical music has much to learn from the riotous arena of rock ’n’ roll.

‘When I heard Jimi, he made me want to play the violin like a guitar: more aggressive, more passion,’ Kennedy explains, his hedgehog hair looking a little greyer these days at the age of 58. 

‘You hear a lot of musicians taught by the conservatoire going through the motions, whereas the great rock guitarists were in tune with their instrument. They pushed things. They played like fire.’

Kennedy has been captivated by Hendrix since he first heard his music while cloistered at the Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey from the age of seven to 16.

There, the Brighton-born child prodigy was marked for classical greatness from the age of ten, but he says felt stifled by the purist environment. 

Instead of burying himself in the past – he once quipped, ‘Just because you’re playing music written hundreds of years ago you don’t have to look like you’ve been buried with the composer’ – he found escape listening to rock music on a portable radio he hid under the bed covers.

The night he heard Hendrix’s cover of Hey Joe, his first UK top ten hit, first released in 1966, he says: ‘I was blown away. I could feel the attitude, the vibrancy of his playing. I could tell Jimi was a virtuoso, a free spirit.

(To read the rest of this article, click HERE)



“Everybody moves on artistically. So this is a representation of everything I hear in the music and I think I’m well placed to do this because I’ve played The Four Seasons in front of so many audiences, possibly thousands of times. I really love this music and want to give it as much as I can. I hope that this new approach brings you a different and deeper enjoyment of this amazing music.” 

(This release can be pre-ordered at Amazon now)


A standing ovation ended the Nigel Kennedy concert in Olzstyn. The world-renowned violinist performed before an audience in the Hall of Urania. The virtuoso played his own work  along with works of popular music for violin. 
What particularly needs to stand out in music that inspires him?

'I think it must be genuine. If something is original, it's just good. I was fortunate that I was a kid in the seventies. These were important years for music. We had Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Santana, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. It was a very creative time. I had the enormous privilege to grow in those years '  said the artist to Radio Olsztyn.

During his concert in the Hall of Urania he was accompanied by, among others, the outstanding drummer Adam Czerwinski, along with Doug Boyle, Julian Buschberger and Tomasz Kupiek.
Nigel Kennedy was the main star of this year’s Olsztyn Artistic Summer.




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