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18-Year-Old Classical Music Superstar Sheku Kanneh-Mason Announces His Debut Album, Inspiration, to be Released January 26


Joins Star-Studded Line-Up for Charity Gala Performance at Carnegie Hall of “The Children’s Monologues” Directed by Danny Boyle and Featuring Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Anne Hathaway, Susan Sarandon, Ewan McGregor, Andrew Garfield, Sienna Miller, Jessica Chastain and More



10 November 2017 (Toronto, ON) - One of the brightest stars in classical music, teenage cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, has joined the line-up for a major charity gala in New York on November 13, just days after he finishes recording his debut album Inspiration to be released on January 26 via Decca Classics/Universal Music Canada, the country’s leading music company.


Sheku will make his Carnegie Hall debut in “The Children’s Monologues” – a one-night-only theatrical event directed by Oscar-winning Danny Boyle, appearing alongside Hollywood A-listers including Catherine Zeta-Jones, James McAvoy, Anne Hathaway, Charlize Theron, Ewan McGregor, Sienna Miller, Andrew Garfield, Jessica Chastain, Trevor Noah, Lena Dunham and Susan Sarandon plus many more. Sheku will perform Bloch’s Abodah as part of the show.


Since winning BBC Young Musician 2016, Sheku has performed Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at the BAFTAs in front of Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, has played at 10 Downing Street as part of the 30th anniversary of Black History Month, and made his BBC Proms debut as a soloist with Chineke! – Europe’s first majority BME (black and minority ethnic) orchestra – with the video of his performance going viral. All of this has been achieved while he  completed his A-Levels, graduated from Trinity School in Nottingham, and started his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London.


Sheku’s debut album, Inspiration, is a deeply personal collection of pieces that have inspired him in his career so far. From his school music teacher who first encouraged him to play “Evening of Roses” to the great cellists – Mstislav Rostropovich, Pablo Casals and Jacqueline du Pré who inspired him to play “Tears for Jacqueline” and “Song of the Birds”. Sheku’s passion for Bob Marley led to write his very own arrangement of “No Woman, No Cry”. Sheku’s friends and fellow musicians are also a source of inspiration for the album including BBC Young Musician winner Guy Johnston who joins him for “Sardana”.


Sheku recorded “The Swan” from The Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saëns - one of the world’s best-loved cello melodies - in a brand-new version for 12 cellos and harp, with the aim of inspiring other young people to take up the cello and explore classical music.


Inspiration also includes Shostakovich’s “Cello Concerto No.1” – the piece which propelled Sheku to fame as he became the first black winner of BBC Young Musician in the competition’s 38-year history. It was recorded during two concerts in Birmingham and Sheku’s hometown of Nottingham with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.


Sheku began playing the cello at the age of six after attending a concert in Nottingham. By the time he was nine he had achieved Grade 8 and earned the top marks in the country. Since then he has won numerous awards including the Royal Philharmonic Society Young Instrumentalist Prize and the Southbank Breakthrough Award. Sheku can now count Stephen Fry, Eddie Redmayne and even Prince Harry among his famous fans!


The third child of seven, he comes from an incredible musical family in which all of his siblings play instruments to a phenomenally high standard – yet neither parents are musicians. Simon Cowell called them “the most talented family in the world” during a performance on TV’s Britain’s Got Talent. They were also the subject of a BBC Four documentary, Young, Gifted And Classical: The Making Of A Maestro.


Sheku is passionate about building better opportunities for young people of any background to learn music in school and is the Junior Ambassador for the music education charity London Music Masters. He says, “I would love to inspire more diversity in young people taking up classical music – it would be a really wonderful thing if I could be a role model in that way.”



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Sheku Kanneh-Mason - Inspiration

1. “Evening of Roses (Erev Shel Shoshanim)”

Yosef Hadar, trans. Sheku Kanneh-Mason, arr. Tom Hodge

Sheku Kanneh-Mason (Cello), CBSO Cellos


2. “The Swan (Le Cygne)”

Saint-Saëns, arr. Tom Hodge

Sheku Kanneh-Mason (Cello), CBSO Cellos


3. “Song of the Birds (El cant dels ocells)”

Trad, arr. Pablo Casals

Sheku Kanneh-Mason (Cello), CBSO Cellos


4. “Nocturne – The Gadfly, Suite op. 97a”

Dmitri Shostakovich, arr. Levon Atovmyan

Sheku Kanneh-Mason (Cello), Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla (Conductor), CBSO


5. “Dmitri Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No. 1 in Eb Major, Opus 107”

I. Allegretto

II. Moderato

III. Cadenza – Attacca

IV. Allegro con moto

Sheku Kanneh-Mason (Cello), Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla (Conductor), CBSO


6. “Jacqueline’s Tears (Les Larmes de Jacqueline), Op. 76, no. 2”

Jacques Offenbach, arr. Thomas Mifune Werner

Sheku Kanneh-Mason (Cello), Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla (Conductor), CBSO


7. “Sardana”

Pablo Casals

Sheku Kanneh-Mason (Cello), Guy Johnston (Cello), CBSO Cellos


8. “No Woman, No Cry”

Bob Marley, arr. Sheku Kanneh-Mason

Sheku Kanneh-Mason (Cello)


9. “Hallelujah”

Leonard Cohen, arr. Tom Hodge

Sheku Kanneh-Mason (Cello), Didier Osindero (Violin), Alinka Rowe (Viola), Yong Jun Lee (Cello)