Sheku Kanneh-Mason

Cello

Sheku Kanneh-Mason is managed in association with Enticott Music Management

Biography

Sheku Kanneh-Mason, one of the brightest young stars on the classical music scene and winner of the 2016 BBC Young Musician of the Year competition, is already in great demand from major orchestras and concert halls worldwide. In January 2018, his debut recording for Decca Classics, Inspiration, was released, featuring the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla.  The phenomenal success of the album propelled Sheku to a debut spot at number 18 in the Official UK Album charts, and number 1 in the Classical chart.   Alongside short works by Shostakovich, Offenbach, Casals, and Saint-Saëns, Sheku’s own arrangement of Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry was also featured on the album, and went viral on social media, clocking 1 million streams in its first month on Spotify alone.

Sheku’s international career is developing very quickly.  He has already made successful debuts with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, City of Birmingham Symphony, and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, Barcelona Symphony, and the Philharmonia Orchestra. In future seasons, Sheku will perform with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra at the Rheingau Festival, Seattle Symphony, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Netherlands Chamber Orchestra at the Concertgebouw, the Atlanta Symphony, London Philharmonic, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. In 18/19, Sheku will also return to the BBC Symphony Orchestra to perform the Elgar Concerto in his hometown of Nottingham and makes his debut at the Vienna Konzerthaus with the Japan Philharmonic.

In recital, Sheku made his London debut at King’s Place in October 2017 as part of their Cello Unwrapped series.   Upcoming recital highlights include debuts at the Barbican Centre’s Milton Court, Wigmore Hall, Zurich Tonhalle, Lucerne Festival, as well as a major tour of North America to include concerts in Boston, Los Angeles, Minnesota and Sheku’s recital debut at Carnegie Hall New York.

In 2017, Sheku made his BBC Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall as soloist 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 returning as soloist to perform the Haydn Concerto in September 2016.  He is passionate about the importance of making classical music accessible to all and is currently the first London Music Masters Junior Ambassador. From 2018/19, he will become ‘Young Artist in Residence’ at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic where he will take on a role in the orchestra’s education programme as well as performing in Liverpool a number of times across the season.

In May 2018, Sheku became a household name worldwide after playing at the Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in at Windsor Castle. His performance was greeted with universal excitement after being watched by nearly two billion people globally. Sheku has been awarded the South Bank Sky Arts Breakthrough Award, given by the judges to the most promising young Artist across all genres, following recent winners Billie Piper and Stormzy.   He has performed alongside Hollywood A-listers in ‘The Children’s Monologues’ directed by Danny Boyle at Carnegie Hall New York and has played at No. 10 Downing Street in front of an illustrious guest list for Black History Month.

In February 2018, Sheku performed ‘Evening of Roses’ at the BAFTAS Awards show at the Royal Albert Hall.  He was joined on stage by four of his six siblings, all of whom perform classical music to an exceptional standard.  This was the first time any artist has been invited to perform during the ceremony two years running and followed his memorable performance of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ at the 2017 BAFTAs, the subsequent recording going viral on YouTube.

Sheku is currently a full-time ABRSM Scholarship student at the Royal Academy of Music, studying with Hannah Roberts.   He began learning the cello at the age of six with Sarah Huson-Whyte and then studied with Ben Davies at the Junior Department of the Royal Academy of Music where he held the ABRSM Junior Scholarship.  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, participated in the Verbier Festival Academy in masterclasses with Frans Helmerson and Miklos Perenyi. A keen chamber musician, Sheku performs with his sister, Isata and brother, Braimah, as a member of the Kanneh-Mason Trio.

He plays an Antonius and Hieronymus Amati cello c.1610, kindly on loan from a private collection.

Recent News

Reviews

“[Kanneh-Mason’s] own cadenzas have compelling musical logic, his pianissimos were magical, his encore arrangement of a Jewish folksong spellbinding; … you aren’t ever going to hear this Haydn concerto more engagingly performed.”

David Nice

The Arts Desk

“Many of the enthusiastic audience had clearly come to see last year’s BBC Young Musician winner, the cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason. They were rewarded with a stylish performance as the soloist in Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C (Hob VIIb/1). In the central adagio, Kanneh-Mason balanced expressive singing tone with careful, instinctive, dynamic shading. He took the allegro molto at fearless, breakneck speed, the passage work impressively controlled. A solo encore was further testimony to his prodigious gift, and his arrangement of a traditional Jewish song was plangent and subtly elaborated.”

Rian Evans

The Guardian

“Kanneh-Mason is a player who makes you tune in to every nuance of articulation, every subtle shading, every eloquent turn of phrase. Here, joined for this same concerto by his fiercely talented peers in the National Youth Orchestra, he showed us why he won the competition. He performed with urgency and bite, impeccable technique and, in the second movement, exquisite line as the cello sang its sotto voce hymn to the night.”

Rebecca Franks

The Times

“Technically superb and eloquent in his expressivity, he held the capacity audience spellbound with an interpretation of exceptional authority.”

George Hall

The Guardian

“Last year’s BBC Young Musician winner, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, returned to the scene of his victory with the same work, the Russian composer’s First Cello Concerto. Digging in with gripping attack yet also plenty of nuance, he showed 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”

John Allison

The Telegraph

“Kanneh-Mason gave an astonishingly assured performance. The strength of Kanneh-Mason’s approach was that it was so nuanced; this, plus his technical command, led to a memorable account.”

Colin Clarke

Classical Source

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