Cellist wins BBC Young Musician

Cellist wins BBC Young Musician


norman lebrecht

May 15, 2016

Sheku Kanneh-Mason, 17, from Nottingham, was named winner of BBC Young Musician 2016.

Bio: Sheku attends Trinity Catholic Comprehensive School in Nottingham. He began playing the cello aged 6 with Sarah Huson-Whyte of Southwell. At age 9 achieved the ABRSM Marguerite Swan Memorial Prize for Grade 8 cello, gaining the highest UK marks that year. He holds the ABRSM Junior Scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, where he has been studying cello with Ben Davies since 2008. He also studied piano with Druvi de Saram.

The winner of BBC Young Musician 2016, 17-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason with his award at the Barbican, London on Sunday 15 May. Sheku performed ShostakovichÕs Cello Concerto no. 1 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mark Wigglesworth. The BBC Young Musician 2016 Final is broadcast on BBC Four at 7pm and BBC Radio 3 at 7:30pm on Sunday 15 May. Photo by Mark Allan/BBC


  • Mark Winn says:

    This excellent programme should have been on BBC 1 or at the least BBC2, and live on Saturday. The whole series, hidden on BBC4, has been an example of tokenism at its worst. Why are the Beeb so afraid of showing excellence, preferring the utter shod of Europap instead?

    • Patricia Davies says:

      I agree Mark. It was just by chance I watched it. Excellent performances by such young people.

    • pooroperaman says:

      ‘tokenism at its worst’

      Never a truer word. Thank goodness for the BBC that the final result managed to tick every politically correct box going.

      • Stuardo says:

        Politically correct? Not sure what you mean there. Care to explain?

        • Steven Rhodes says:

          Sadly, Stuardo, we know exactly what he means; and what he means is utter rubbish.

          That was a truly gripping and indeed enlightening performance of a difficult piece by Sheka Kanneh-Mason; every line was phrased and every phrase made sense and cohered with the whole reading. He was a very worthy winner and no doubt we’ll hear more of him. And we may, indeed, hear more from the rest of his remarkably talented family.

          For the record, I learnt classical music at an ordinary state primary school. If we want classical music audiences to grow we will need to introduce them to the repertoire early and across a broad social spectrum. If we want them to decline, however, we can perhaps continue to make snide insinuations about energising and intelligent young musicians of blossoming talent.

      • Jaybuyer says:

        Not a WASP? I’m sure the BBC is delighted at the jury’s decision. (And btw so am I !) I really enjoyed it this year, although the gushing duo got on my wick a bit. (Just saying. …)

  • Gill Tennant says:

    I missed all but the ‘cellist – alerted by my sister phoning and asking if I were watching it! Please, please BBC, whichever channel it is to be shown on, publicise it on all your channels, and a lot more! A gem of a programme, I had intended to watch, but my SO scanning the listings said there were no listings for BBC 4 shown that evening. He did wonder whether the channel had been relegated to the internet.
    A wonderful programme, but the BBC failed it.

  • Mike Bee says:

    The result ticked ‘every politically correct box going’; not quite sure what is being suggested by this comment. Surely pooroperaman is not hinting that Sheku’s award was given for un-musical reasons? So – he’s a young man from the East Midlands, and not the Home Counties, and attends a local Comprehensive School and not some £10k+ p.a. private college down South; but concertgoers here in Nottingham know that we have in our city an extraordinary family of musicians. Just go to YouTube and enter the Kanneh-Mason name and see for yourselves.

    • Allen says:

      “Surely pooroperaman is not hinting that Sheku’s award was given for un-musical reasons? So – he’s a young man from the East Midlands, and not the Home Counties, and attends a local Comprehensive School and not some £10k+ p.a. private college down South”

      You seem to be attaching some importance to “un-musical reasons” yourself. No shortage of musicians, and singers in particular, from outside the wicked “South”.

    • pooroperaman says:

      Just listen to the Radio 4 news: ‘A boy from a comprehensive school has won…’. You can practically hear the PC slavering.

      • Steven Rhodes says:

        The politics seems to be coming all from one direction pooroperaman; you have not once mentioned the musicianship of the winner on this thread.

      • Michael Smith says:

        Why not listen to him play, Pooroperaman? Only the irretrievably tin-eared could doubt his remarkable talent.

  • Arthur Rosen says:

    I do believe that all three finalists were from State Schools. But what does it matter?..we should celebrate the excellence of all our individual youths, no matter what racial or financial demographic they come from. This country is built on the two systems of education and we should respect and revel in both.

  • Daniel Andrews says:

    I feel the negative comments above are so sad and a reflection of the cynicism of the posters. I watched the first one nearly 40 years ago and the overall standard of the competition is unbelievably higher than it was. Sheku Kanne-Mason was a very worthy winner – a fantastic performance of the Shostakovich from a young man – whatever school he goes to. And the BBC are to be congratulated on keeping this competition going over the years. As for it being ‘hidden on BBC 4’, it’s a national channel I believe and I’d advise people to invest (as we do) in a copy of the Radio Times if they want to find out when it’s on!

    • Gill Tennant says:

      £260+ (licence fee plus regular Radio Times) is a high price to pay for the one unmissable programme each year for me, on a not terribly generous pension.

  • Stephen Munslow says:

    The amount of sickly gushing positive wonderfulness, interviewing friends and relations, and the inevitable “How does it feel?” question was cringeworthy. I half expected them to interview the contestants’ pets: “Well, Fido, how does it feel having a master who plays the cello so brilliantly?”