For Isata und Sheku Kanneh-Mason - she plays piano, he the cello - music is a shared experience. It’s no wonder, when you grow up in a musical household like that of the Kanneh-Masons. Their family has caused quite a sensation. Isata, Sheku and their five siblings’ careers got their start on Britain's Got Talent, of all places. Their unusual beginnings give an indication of the openness with which they approach music. Stylistic boundaries play no role for the two Brits. They position everything in the here and now, and see it as their simple yet exacting goal to first and foremost touch people with their music. Their recipe for success is to explore musical landscapes and times intensively.
We meet the charismatic siblings at their concert at the Rheingau Music Festival. Musically, they immerse themselves in the rich melodic world of the early 20th century. Among other works, they play excerpts from Benjamin Britten's Sonata for cello and piano in C major, Op. 65, and Frank Bridge's Scherzo for cello and piano, H. 19a. In the interview, they talk about their childhood, musical education, instruments, recording at the legendary Abbey Road Studios, and the vast inequality that still exists in the classical music world. It’s for that reason they’re using their platform to advocate for more diversity. To finish, they even tell us who their idols are. For Sheku, they are first and foremost reggae musician Bob Marley - from whom he even picks out No Woman, No Cry on his instrument - and British cellist Jacqueline du Pré. Isata cites pianists Martha Argerich and Vladimir Ashkenazy, and composer and pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff as major influences.
Isata and Sheku Kanneh-Mason come from Nottingham, England. Sheku was the first black musician to win the BBC Young Musician Award in 2016 - and he attracted attention when he played at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle - being watched by nearly two billion people globally. He has released two chart-topping albums. Elgar in 2020 reached number eight on the overall UK official album chart, making Sheku the first cellist in history to land a UK top ten. Isata Kanneh-Mason was the recipient of the 2021 Leonard Bernstein Award, a 2020 Opus Klassik award for best young artist and, as a member of the Kanneh-Mason family, the 2021 best classical artist at the Global Awards.
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