Not many 19-year-olds can say they have won BBC Young Musician, or that they have performed at the BAFTAs (twice), or that they have been personally asked by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to perform at their wedding ceremony. British cellist Sheku Kanneh-Manson can say he’s experienced all three!
Sheku grew up in Nottingham in a family where music was the common language – seven of the eight siblings already perform in the Chineke! Orchestras. He has been playing the cello since he was six and has an incredible passion for playing and learning, as he told BBC Music Magazine last year: ‘Every time you perform a masterpiece you learn something new about it, I like that process. There will always be new repertoire to explore and I’ll be doing that for the rest of my life.’
His debut disc Inspiration reached number 18 in the UK Albums Charts and number one on the UK classical albums chart. In 2016, Sheku took part in a BBC Four documentary, titled Young, Gifted and Classical: The Making of a Maestro. He currently studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London with revered cellist Hannah Roberts.
His album with the London Symphony Orchestra under Simon Rattle, in which he performed Elgar’s iconic Cello Concerto, made chart history, with Kanneh-Mason becoming the first cellist to ever reach the top 10 of the UK official album chart.
Was Sheku excited to play at the Royal Wedding? His Twitter post following the announcement says it all: ‘I was bowled over when Ms Markle called me to ask if I would play during the ceremony, and of course I immediately said yes!!! What a privilege. I can’t wait!’