Stellar siblings offer a preview of Cellissimo

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

Music for Galway is giving people a top-quality sample of next year’s Cellissimo Festival, when renowned UK siblings Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason – members of an extraordinary musical family – perform in the city’s Galmont Hotel and Spa this Saturday, November 18.

The concert, with Sheku on cello and Isata on piano, is in the Inis Mór Ballroom and starts at 7.30pm.

There are seven siblings in the Kanneh-Mason family and all are accomplished musicians. Sheku, who became the first Black musician to win the BBC Young Musician competition – in 2016 –  played cello for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding at Windsor Castle in 2018, after which his profile went through the roof. That performance was watched by nearly two billion people and was universally praised.

He’s a Decca Classics recording artist and his 2020 album, Elgar, reached Number Eight in the UK’s mainstream Official Album Chart, making him the first ever cellist to reach the UK Top 10.

Sheku, who is Artist in Residence with London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, also performs with orchestras such as the London Mozart Players, Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Camerata Salzburg, the Hallé Orchestra, and Royal Scottish National Orchestra.  He features as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Boston Symphony, São Paulo Symphony, and on tour with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Sheku made his debut at the BBC Proms in 2017 and has performed at the prestigious event every year since, including in 2020, during Covid-19, when he and Isata gave a breathtaking recital to an empty auditorium.

The cellist, who received an MBE in 2020,  plays a Matteo Goffriller cello from 1700.

Isata Kanneh-Mason, who was named a European Concert Hall Rising Star in 2021, has an equally busy schedule as a solo pianist and chamber musician. She’s also a Decca Classics recording artist and she topped the charts in 2019 with her debut recording, Romance – the Piano Music of Clara Schumann.

Pictured: Siblings Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason who play cello and piano respectively and will be inconcert in Galway this Saturday night.


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