Winner of the 2016 BBC Young Musician competition, Sheku Kanneh-Mason is in great demand from orchestras and concert halls worldwide. He became a household name in May 2018 after performing at the Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at Windsor Castle. In January 2020, Sheku released his second album, Elgar, featuring the Cello Concerto, which he recorded at Abbey Road Studios with Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra. On its release, it reached No. 8 in the UK Official Album Chart, making Sheku the youngest classical instrumentalist and the first cellist in history to reach the UK Top 10.
Sheku has made debuts with orchestras such as the Seattle Symphony, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Netherlands Chamber Orchestra at the Concertgebouw, the Atlanta Symphony, Japan Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, and Baltimore Symphony orchestras. Forthcoming highlights include performances with the City of Birmingham Symphony, Toronto Symphony, BBC Scottish Symphony, and Stockholm Philharmonic orchestras.
Recent recital performances include Wigmore Hall, Zurich Tonhalle, Lucerne Festival, Festival de Saint-Denis, Théâtre des Champs Elysées Paris, Teatro della Pergola Florence, and a critically acclaimed tour of North America that took in Los Angeles, Berkeley, St Paul, Vancouver, Ann Arbor, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Sheku’s recital debut at Carnegie Hall New York. Upcoming recital debuts include London’s Barbican Hall, L’Auditori Barcelona, Madrid’s Auditorio Nacional, and the chamber hall of the Berlin Philharmonie.
Sheku is passionate about making music accessible to all and is an ambassador for Music Masters and Future Talent. During the Covid-19 lockdown in spring 2020, Sheku and his siblings performed in livestreams from their family home in Nottingham to audiences of hundreds of thousands.
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, Ralph Kirshbaum, 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.
Sheku was appointed a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2020 New Year’s Honours List. He plays an Antonius and Hieronymus Amati cello c.1610, kindly on loan from a private collection.
Photo Credit: Jake Turney