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Punk violinist Nigel Kennedy returns to Australia -

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STAN GRANT, PRESENTER: He is known as the punk violinist and has the spiky hair of Johnny Rotten to prove it.

Nigel Kennedy is certainly unconventional both in appearance and his outspoken political views.

But he is also a world renowned classical musician - even if he likes to dabble in rock music too.

Sarah Whyte sat down with the classical rocker as he relaxed in the northern beaches of Sydney, beginning his national Australian tour.


NIGEL KENNEDY, VIOLINIST: With Jimi Hendrix, he is one of my favourite composers, out of all eras.

You know, I put him up there with Bach or Beethoven or any of the great classical ones.

He changed music, more than either of those two people actually, because he developed the guitar to the level in which was just inspirational.


All I do is just play my music the way I want. I started playing on the street in New York and that was fantastic money.

I could earn like a thousand dollars in three or four, not that money is that important but I knew I could pay the rent and get food.

So I didn't need people telling me what to do. So straight away I got involved in music business and I just thought , take it or leave it.

I'm what I am and that's just too bad.

Violins, I've never really broken, except for one forlorn attempt, I tried to be like Jimi Hendrix and I got a violin out in the London Palladium and I started to burn it with cigarette lighter fluid and some monkeys came on with asbestos blanket and covered it up and said that that's a fire hazard.

So you know, times have changed a bit.


You know, people talking about old music becoming irrelevant.

I don't believe so, you know, I'm in the middle of a project trying to show the universality of Bach and a lot of what Bach wrote was exercises for students to play, but it's absolutely inspired music.

So I think we can now listen to the music, with more respect and respect shown in the early 1700s for his music.

Everything that Vivaldi wrote, I know it. You know like, what the violas are doing at a certain point, which is obviously not much by definition of the instrument.

My mate, he plays viola and he's doing a charity gig and I said, look who are you playing this for, the Taliban, because like I know that the Taliban hate music and so therefore the viola must be their favourite music.

But let, I know everything in Vivaldi and I still discover new stuff, like every time I am playing it up.

You know, straight away you are playing for an audience.

There is positive energy amongst the people who've bothered to leave their home to come into the auditorium and the musicians on stage with me and me, myself, I've got a positive demeanour.

I've totally forgotten it.

Oh yeah! That's a good bit.

Coming back to Oz is like, obviously is great for me cause I love playing to Australian audiences and like people actually get my humour here.

You know, there is no airs and graces about it, like what there might be in various parts of Europe, including my Brex-shit homeland.


I feel like I'm a story teller from the violin.

You know, we might not have words in the music, but it was a kind of narrative in the music and I like to have that and so you know hopefully there will be some kind of sense that people have been taken on a journey through a story.


I am not going to play a safe concert within my capabilities because that's cheating my colleagues and the audience out of getting a decent gig out of it.

You know, so I'm always pushing it.


STAN GRANT: Sarah Whyte there and we do apologise for any viola players who might be watching after Nigel Kennedy's comments.

Nigel Kennedy's tour dates: Sydney Opera House, January 27 & 28; Melbourne Arts Centre, January 30 & 31; Queensland Performing Arts Centre, February 2; Perth Concert Hall, February 5.\t