Decca Classics has signed 17-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, the winner of this year’s BBC Young Musician 2016. The deal will not only see the label making recordings with him, but also offer what it describes as ‘long-term support’ to him through his studies.
The first release will be Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No 1, the piece he performed in the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition, prompting the judges to praise his interpretation as 'electrifying, sincere and moving'.
‘It is a great honour for me to be joining the Decca Classics family and following in the footsteps of great artists like Mstislav Rostropovich, my musical hero', said Kanneh-Mason, referring to the fact Shostakovich wrote his first cello concerto for the great Russian soloist. ‘I’m excited to take the next step on my journey and look forward to bringing my passion for classical music to a wider audience.’
Alexander Buhr, Managing Director of Decca Classics, said: ‘Sheku is an astonishingly gifted young musician with incredible energy and a burning passion for his music. We are thrilled to be partnering with Sheku to help foster his remarkable talent through ongoing support for his musical studies and opportunities to record with leading artists. I can't wait to see him grow and develop in the coming years and we will be by his side every step of the way.’
Kanneh-Mason currently attends the Royal Academy of Music’s Junior Programme. He also regularly performs with Chineke!, Europe’s first BME (black and minority ethnic) orchestra, appearing as a soloist with them at the Royal Festival Hall, something he describes as ‘one of the highlights of my life'.
'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,’ he added. Kanneh-Mason was the first black person to have won the BBC Young Musician of the Year. Together with his family – his siblings are all accomplished muscians - he will be the subject of a BBC Four documentary ‘Young, Gifted And Classical: The Making Of A Maestro’, on November 20, at 8pm.