As part of her Award of Excellence, Nicola Benedetti has chosen violin teacher Rachel Cooper for the DSO’s Emerging Artist Award

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Left: Nicola Benedetti © Franz Galo

Right: Rachel Cooper © The Shannons Photography

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The Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) presented its fifth annual Women in Classical Music Symposium from 12 to 15 November at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, TX.

Violinist Nicola Benedetti was given the symposium’s Award of Excellence - presented to a woman in the field who has paved the way for others and is investing in the future of the industry. The Grammy Award-winning violinist and festival director of the Edinburgh International Festival has made education a core part of her artistry and career. In 2019, she set up the Benedetti Foundation, which has worked with 65,000 participants of all ages and levels, instrumentalists and non-instrumentalists, across 105 countries through mass music events.

’I’m deeply honoured to receive this Award of Excellence from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra,’ commented Benedetti. ’I gave my debut with this fantastic group of musicians many years ago and have so many beautiful and dear memories.’

As part of the symposium, the Award of Excellence honouree chooses a recipient for the Emerging Artist Award, which comes with a cash award. Benedetti has chosen Rachel Cooper, a violin teacher dedicated to creating fun and meaningful ways to teach young people core technical and musical foundations.

’I always remember the first time I saw Rachel teach,’ said Benedetti, elaborating on her choice. ’She has an uncompromising dedication to her craft, endless energy to problem solve for her students, and despite a relentless seriousness in expecting the best from young people, she manages to keep everyone uplifted, dedicated and in a spirit of belief and positivity.

’Teaching is far more than a job for Rachel, and she is an inspiration to all of us. We have to uphold the value of great teachers and celebrate when they do great work. This is why I am so proud this award is going to a shining beacon in the world of music education.’

Since graduating with master’s from the Royal College of Music in 2014, Cooper has built up a varied portfolio of teaching. She is a trained Suzuki violin teacher working as a violin/viola and chamber music coach at Junior Guildhall, a violin teacher for London based charity Music Masters and a violin tutor, mentor and teacher trainer for the Benedetti Foundation. Cooper runs a string course called VIVAStrings in Wiltshire each summer for eight to fifteen-year-olds.

’This award will give me an opportunity to feed my own professional development, as well as start putting together my ideas for a book,’ said Cooper. ’For many years I have been fascinated with the way teachers create magic and facilitate the best instrumental learning.

’On this journey of discovery, I have started to collate ideas about the environment we create as teachers, as well as how we can best deliver content and thus elevate a classroom from good, to great. This award will enable me the time and space to finally put pen to paper and I can’t wait to get started.’

Since its launch in 2019, the DSO’s Women in Classical Music Symposium is the only formal gathering to discuss issues specific to women in the field of classical music. The symposium has featured panel discussions and presentations from leading women in the industry, including conductors, composers, performers, educators and administrators. The individuals have shared their experiences on a range of topics from gender bias and discrimination to the importance of representation and diversity in classical music.

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