Sheku Kanneh-Mason is the 2016 BBC Young Musician, a title he won with a stunning performance of the Shostakovich Cello Concerto at London’s Barbican Hall with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in Spring 2016. In April 2017, Sheku returned to the hall for another performance of the concerto, this time with the National Youth Orchestra and Carlos Miguel Prieto after which the Guardian wrote that “technically superb and eloquent in his expressivity, he held the capacity audience spellbound with an interpretation of exceptional authority” and the Telegraph acknowledged “what a remarkable musician he already is, bringing other-worldly tone to the haunting slow movement and displaying mature musicianship in his handling of the extended cadenza”
Only eighteen years old, Sheku’s international career is developing very quickly with engagements in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 season including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the CBSO, the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Newbury Spring Festival, the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich, the Barcelona Symphony, the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra (his debut at the Concertgebouw Hall), the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (Sheku’s concerto debut in North America), the Atlanta and Louisana Symphonies. He will also return to the BBC Symphony Orchestra to perform the Elgar Concerto in his home town of Nottingham and make his debut at the Konzerthaus, Vienna with the Japan Philharmonic. In recital, Sheku will perform several concerts across the UK with highlights over the next two seasons including his debuts at Kings Place as part of their Cello Unwrapped series, Milton Court and Wigmore Hall. He will also perform recitals at the Tonhalle, Zurich, the Lucerne Festival and a series of concerts in Canada later this year.
Last summer, Sheku performed at the BBC Proms in the Park in Wales and will return to the Proms at the Albert Hall in summer 2017 with the Chineke Orchestra, an ensemble with which he enjoys a special relationship having taken part in their debut concert at the Royal Festival Hall in 2015 and then returning as soloist to perform the Haydn Concerto with the orchestra in April 2017 “You aren’t ever going to hear this Haydn Concerto more engagingly performed” The Arts Desk.
In February 2017, Sheku performed an arrangement of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” for Cello and String Trio at the BAFTAS Awards show at the Royal Albert Hall, an interpretation which brought the celebrity-filled audience to their feet and which has subsequently been shared and viewed by nearly two million people on social media sites. He has an exclusive recording contract with Decca Classics and his first concerto recording for the label will be released in 2018.
A keen chamber musician, Sheku performs regularly as a member of the Kanneh-Mason Piano Trio with sister, Isata and brother, Braimah as well as with the Mizuta Trio, an ensemble formed while Sheku attended the Junior Department of the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Sheku began learning the cello at the age of six with Sarah Huson-Whyte and currently studies with Ben Davies at the Junior Department of the Royal Academy of Music where he holds the ABRSM Junior Scholarship. In September 2017, he will start a full time degree course at the Royal Academy, studying with Hannah Roberts. He has received masterclass tuition from Guy Johnston, Robert Max, Alexander Baillie, Steven Doane, Rafael Wallfisch, Jo Cole, Melissa Phelps and Julian Lloyd Webber and in July 2017, will be a member of the Verbier Festival Academy where he will undertake masterclasses with Frans Helmerson and Miklos Perenyi.
Sheku is passionate about the importance of making classical music accessible to all and is the first London Music Masters Junior Ambassador. With his siblings, the Kanneh Mason seven-piece ensemble, he has performed in many venues across the UK including at Marlborough House in front of HRH Prince Charles for Commonwealth Day and on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent, both in the semi-finals in 2015 and then as special guests on the final show in June 2017 performing with dance group, Diversity.
He plays an Antonius and Hieronymus Amati cello c1610 kindly on loan from a private collection.
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