17-year-old cellist wins BBC Young Musician competition

Sheku Kanneh-Mason, a seventeen-year-old cellist from Nottingham, has won the career-boosting BBC Young Musician competition. Co-hosted by former winner Alison Balsom and BBC presenter Josie D’Arby, the final took place on 15 May at London’s Barbican Centre.

The two other finalists were French horn player Ben Goldscheider and saxophonist Jess Gillam. Each performed with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mark Wigglesworth in front of a live audience. The judging panel was made up of saxophonist Amy Dickson, French horn player Alec Frank-Gemmill, cellist Jamie Walton, BBC Proms director David Pickard and composer Dobrinka Tabakova.

Said Kanneh-Mason: ‘I’m so grateful for all the support from my family, the Junior Royal Academy of Music, my teacher Ben Davies and Chineke!, who have helped me on this extraordinary journey.’

‘He was electric. There was something about the way he drew the audience in,’ commented Tabakova ‘A sincere and moving performance.’ Kanneh-Mason’s piece for the final was Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No 1.

The young cellist attends attends Trinity Catholic Comprehensive School in Nottingham, and studies at The Royal Academy of Music under with Ben Davies. He plays chamber music with the Kanneh-Mason Piano Trio and the Ash String Trio.

2016 marked the 38th edition of the competition, with former participants including Jennifer Pike, Thomas Adès, Nicola Benedetti, Stephen Hough, Emma Johnson, Freddy Kempf and Paul Watkins.