Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason has been named as the winner of BBC Young Musician 2016. The 17-year-old cellist from Nottingham said winning was ‘a wonderful feeling’.
Kanneh-Mason won the competition with a scintillating performance of Shostakovich’s First Cello Concerto – the same work that Guy Johnston performed in winning BBC Young Musician in 2000. Dobrinka Tabakova, the composer and chairman of the BBC Young Musician judges, said of Kanneh-Mason that ‘He was electric. There was something about the way he drew the audience in. A sincere and moving performance.’
The award, which is now in its 38th year, took place on Sunday at the Barbican in London. Kanneh-Mason and runners-up French Horn player Ben Goldscheider and saxophonist Jess Gillam performed with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Mark Wigglesworth. Gillam performed Michael Nyman’s Where the Bee Dances, and Goldscheider played Richard Strauss’s Second Horn Concerto. They were judged by a panel of experts, including international players of each of the finalists instruments: Julian Lloyd Webber (cello), Amy Dickson (saxophone) and Alec Frank-Gemmill (horn).
Kanneh-Mason, who is the fourth cellist to win BBC Young Musician, plays in both the Chineke! Orchestra and the JRAM Symphony Orchestra, and was recently award the Royal Philharmonic Society Duet award for young musicians. ‘I’m so grateful for all the support from my family, the Junior Royal Academy of Music, my teacher Ben Davies and Chineke! that have helped me on this extraordinary journey’ he said.
In naming Kanneh-Mason the winner, Tabakova applauded how ‘In today’s society, which seems to be swept by mediocrity, he shows how hard work, dedicated and talent can lift you out.’
Every episode of BBC Young Musician is still available on iPlayer.