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Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Cello

In May 2016, at the age of 17, Sheku won the BBC Young Musician competition, performing Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at London’s Barbican Hall. A pupil at Trinity Catholic School in Nottingham, Sheku began learning the cello aged six with Sarah Huson-Whyte. He currently studies cello with Ben Davies at the Junior Department of the Royal Academy of Music, where he holds the ABRSM Junior Scholarship.

At the age of nine, Sheku won the Marguerite Swan Memorial Prize for the highest marks in the UK for Grade 8 cello. He won Nottingham Young Musician of the Year aged 12, and was three times a winner of the Royal Academy’s Lower Strings Prize. He has held the String Recital Trophy for the Derby Music Festival for five years. Sheku won the Royal Academy Dame Ruth Railton Chamber Music Prize (2014), the Pro Corda Chamber Music Competition (2015), and is the Gregynog Young Musician 2015.

Sheku has performed widely throughout the UK in venues including London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, Barbican Hall, St John's Smith Square, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Cadogan Hall and Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall. In September, Sheku appears as soloist at BBC Proms in the Park in Wales, and performs Haydn’s Concerto in C with Chineke! Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall. Recital highlights next season include performing at London’s Kings Place as part of the Cello Unwrapped series.

A keen chamber musician, Sheku performs regularly as part of the Kanneh-Mason Piano Trio and String Quartet, and the Mizuta Trio. Sheku is a member of Chineke! Orchestra, which gave its debut concert in September at The Royal Festival Hall, and is Principal Cello of the Chineke! Junior Orchestra. For several years he was a member of the National Youth Chamber Orchestra.

Sheku has received masterclass tuition from Guy Johnston, Robert Max, Alexander Baillie, Steven Doane, Rafael Wallfisch, Jo Cole, Melissa Phelps and Julian Lloyd-Webber. In 2015, he performed in the semi-final of ITV's Britain's Got Talent with his six-piece family orchestra. Sheku has performed several times on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune show, and has featured on Front Row, Radio 4.

Sheku is very grateful for support from Y-Notts and the Nottingham Education Trust.

Sheku plays a cello made by Frank White of Ladystone Violins.


“[Sheku] was electric. In today’s society, which seems swept by mediocrity, he shows how hard work and dedication can lift you out.” Dobrinka Tabakova (BBC Young Musician 2016 jury chair)

“Whether impassioned or fragile, Kanneh-Mason made the Concerto his own. The intensity of the cadenza communicated this cellist’s innate musical intelligence.” Classical Source, May 2016