stars on musical mission

IT'S a marathon day in Glasgow today - but there's not a single athlete involved.

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Laura Ayoub and her sister Sarah want to bring classical music to a wider audience, while Nicola Benedetti, right, will play with three orchestras in a single day
Laura Ayoub and her sister Sarah want to bring classical music to a wider audience, while Nicola Benedetti, right, will play with three orchestras in a single day

A Classics marathon day will take over the Royal Concert Hall from noon until night, bringing together the cream of the classical world for a diverse bill that touches upon everything from baroque to tango and from Scottish music to material from further afield.

Leading from the front will be Nicola Benedetti, who's set herself the personal challenge of performing with three orchestras as the day goes on

It also promises to let the next generation of Scottish talent emerge, including Bearsden sisters Sarah and Laura Ayoub.

The duo, alongside viola player Christine Anderson, will be kicking off a brand new collaboration between the Hebrides Ensemble and the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, performing a Russian/Irish programme that includes Shostakovich's popular piano quintet.

And Laura, a violinist who's currently studying at the Royal College of Music in London, is hopeful the all day classic bonanza will help encourage more people to give classical music a go.

"It's not at all the elite few that can go to this event, we want everyone possible there, from kids to those who might not normally come to a classical event," she says.

"That's what we're continually trying to do, bring classical music to everyone, and it can appeal and speak to everyone... I think classical music does come with a stereotype that it's older people who listen to it and that it's boring.

"The last thing classical music is is boring. There's enough different styles to satisfy anyone, if you give it a chance."

Saturday's performance has an added appeal for Laura though, as the 18-year-old will get to perform with her big sister Sarah, a cellist, at the event, something she's obviously delighted by.

"Sarah and I have played together a lot since we were four or five, and it's definitely comfortable to have her onstage," she adds.

"It should be a lot of fun too. The great thing is that we don't play the same instruments! She's a pianist and a cellist and I'm doing piano as a second study but I'm very much a violinist so we're never up against each other.

"There's not any rivalry, we just want the best for each other. Sarah's the one who taught me how much hard work was required, just watching her play the piano for hours and hours."

Although both sisters took up their instruments at a young age, they don't come from a musical family, with Laura joking that her parents are "tone deaf".

Yet both proved naturals, and ended up studying at Douglas Academy in Milngavie, as well as becoming involved in the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland.

Since then Laura take her talents as far afield as Lithuania, where she performed last year, while she also took three top prizes in the Glasgow Music Festival in 2013.

She may now study down south, but she points to Glasgow as being a hotbed of classical culture.

"It's an amazing city for music - it's home to orchestras and the concert hall venues are endless," she says.

"There's a huge amount of opportunities if you're open to them and it's a great place if you're a classical musician.

"There's students from all over the world because of the Royal Conservatoire, and that means there's such a high standard throughout the city."

Speaking of a high standard, few have done more to promote classical music in Scotland than Nicola Benedetti, and Laura believes the Ayrshire born violinist is an inspiration.

"She's just an incredible human being," says Laura.

"When you look at her, and everything she's done when she's just 27, she's done so much.

"She's so willing to give, which a lot of people aren't willing to do because they're focused on their own career and getting well known, but she's all about giving back and wanting to help young musicians."

And Saturday's showcase should help to display everything on offer in Scotland, with each hour long performance touching upon a different aspect.

"There's so many cultures within Scotland and this day should show that," adds Laura.

"You're going to have baroque, Indian traditional music, Scottish traditional music and it all ties into the Commonwealth Games.

"There's very much a sense of bringing people together with the Games and we can do that with music as well."

n Classics Marathon Day, Royal Concert Hall, noon, Saturday, £5 for each performance, except Reels to Ragas at 1pm, which is free.

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