Fife jazz man takes a leading role in launch of music foundation

Kirkcaldy musician Richard Michael had the honour of being a tutor at the launch of Nicola Benedetti's Foundation in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall last Saturday, January 4.
Kirkcaldy musician Richard Michael had the honour of being a tutor at the launch of Nicola Benedetti's Foundation in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall last Saturday, January 4.

Kirkcaldy musician Richard Michael BEM had the honour of being a tutor at the launch of Nicola Benedetti’s Foundation in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall recently.

Nicola Benedetti is one of the world’s leading violinists who is proud of her Scottish background and passionate about music education.

The Foundation brings together hundreds of players from all backgrounds into a safe environment to create music together.

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Richard (70) revealed he came to be involved in the event.

He said: “This all came about from a call from our son, Robin, in London asking if I could do a gig for him as he’d be abroad at the time playing Principal Cello with Paris based orchestra “Les Siècles”.

“I didn’t realise that he’d been working with Nicola providing a jazz input into her London sessions.

“I was delighted to be asked, and on Saturday I did a harmony session in front of 300 children, directed their advanced orchestra in a piece of my own, and then led a teachers’ session drawing on my experiences when I was principal teacher of music at Beath High School in Cowdenbeath.

“I loved the day but was getting a bit tired of being known as “Robin’s dad”!”

Richard was a music teacher at Beath High School in Cowdenbeath for 31 years before he retired.

But he is possibly be best known for his role as director of Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra.

His son Robin is principal cello with Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique and also with the orchestra accompanying famed soprano Cecilia Bartoli in all her concerts and tours.

Robin will be back with Nicola this Saturday at the Southbank with his two sons violinist Oliver (9) and cellist Elliot (6).

The event comes after Richard was invited to play at a concert in Chelyabinsk, around 900 miles east of Moscow in October.

The invitation was made by Vladamir Khomyakov, the organiser of the festival and principal organist of the Chelyabinsk Philharmonic Society.

Richard was the only international musician there who could play the piano and he was given the chance to perform on a new concert piano at the festival.

The jazz musician also led a workshop whose participants included a girl aged just 11 to a saxophone player aged 40.

Richard will be involved in the next Benedetti Foundation day, which will be in Dundee later this year from March 6-8.

He hopes his young string players in Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra will be in attendance.