At just aged 9, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, passed his Grade 8 Cello examination with the highest marks in the UK. At age 17 he won the 2016 BBC young musician of the year award and became the first ever artist to be re-invited to perform a second time at the British Academy Film Awards in 2017 and 2018. … And now, age 19, millions have watched him play at the Royal Wedding.
Sheku described the day he played at the Royal Wedding as ‘amazing’, and ‘very cool.’
British born Kanneh-Mason insisted he wasn’t hit by nerves on Meghan and Harry’s big day despite the audience of an estimated 2 billion tuning in around the world to watch the ceremony.
“I could see the whole audience,” Sheku, who is a student at the Royal College of Music, told Harper’s Bazaar. “It was amazing to perform in such a special venue and in front of so many people. It was exciting. I wasn’t too nervous.”
Prince Harry spotted Sheku at an event in London in support the Halo Foundation in 2017- a charity based in Antigua where Sheku’s family are from.
A few months before the Royal wedding, Sheku received a personal call from Ms Markle. He wrote on Twitter:
“It was such a shock and an honour to have been picked,” he says. “I was expecting an important call but I didn’t know that I was going to be invited to perform.”
“I was bowled over when Ms Markle called me to ask if I would play during the ceremony, and of course I immediately said yes!!! What a privilege. I can’t wait!”
The teenager played [along with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the English Chamber Orchestra and the London-based Philharmonia], three poignant pieces as the newlyweds signed the register in St George’s Chapel
- Sicilienne Maria Theresia von Paradis (1759-1824) arr. Chris Hazell (b.1948)
- Apres un reve Gabriel Faure (1845-1924) arr. Chris Hazell
- Ave Maria Franz Schubert (1797-1828) arr. Chris Hazell
Speaking about his music choices he said:
“The first two pieces were pieces I suggested.”
“I thought they would work really well. I emailed to recommend that Harry and Meghan listen to them and they really liked them both. Ave Maria was a piece that they suggested and I thought it would sound really great on the cello.”
“I didn’t rehearse with the orchestra until the Thursday and Friday before the wedding,” Sheku says. “But preparation was key. It really helped me to focus and feel confident in what I was doing.”
His tailored navy suit, crisp white shirt and floral silk tie, were gifted to him by designer Paul Smith for the occasion.
According to his bio, Sheku doesn’t own his cello—he uses a 400 years old Antonius and Hieronymus Amati cello from 1610.
Violin dealer Florian Leonhard arranged for him to play it in the BBC young musician of the year competition and ended up brokering a permanent deal for him to keep it “with the help of a generous anonymous sponsor based in London,” and with a price tag of £500,000 Sheku ‘keeps it close by’ whenever he’s travelling.
WATCH Sheku Kanneh-Mason Perform at The Royal Wedding
Sheku Kanneh-Mason: Sicilienne – Après un Rêve – Ave Maria, at the Royal Wedding 19.05.18