Five questions to Sheku Kanneh-Mason

By Annette Zerpner May 28, 2024


Portrait Sheku Kanneh-Mason mit Celllo © Ollie Ali

We are delighted to welcome cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason as our new Artist in Residence and ask him a few questions about his 2024/25 season.

How do you feel about coming to Berlin to start your residency at the Konzerthaus?

Berlin is a city that I don't know well yet. I am really looking forward to the residency and the opportunity to get to know the city, new musicians and the Konzerthaus. It's always very special to share wonderful music in a place with musicians who really care about it and with an audience that is open to getting to know us and our relationship to music.

How did you find your way to the cello?

The first instrument I learnt was the piano. We had one at home, my older siblings as well as both of my parents were playing, and I wanted to join with what they were doing. So my mum gave me a lot of lessons on the piano and later on the violin as well. But I didn't get on well with the violin at all. When I was about six years old, I went to listen to a youth orchestra in Nottingham and became really excited by the look and the sound of the cello.

So I asked if I could play it instead. And I'm glad that I did. It simply suited me.

In addition to three cello concertos, chamber music is also on the program - how important is it for you?

It's a wonderful way to enjoy music, and has been for my whole life. I'm grateful to have grown up with six siblings, all of whom play a string instrument or the piano. There were lots of opportunities to play chamber music at home. Particularly with my older sister Isata and my older brother Braimah, we played a lot of piano trios when we were growing up and still continue to do that. It is highly enjoyable to explore this wonderful repertoire with those two musicians I know so very well. We are delighted that we are going to be playing a piano trio concert as part of my residency at the Konzerthaus. 

Are you a „strictly classical“ guy?

Not at all, even though the majority of my education has been within the genre of classical music. The more I get to know the cello, the more I realise how much I can do with it in terms of the range of sounds, colours, characters and images. Collaborating with musicians from jazz, pop and other backgrounds made me able to enjoy exploring those possibilities in other genres of music as well.

At Konzerthaus, I'll be playing two concerts with old friends of mine who have different musical backgrounds. There's Brazilian guitarist Plinio Fernandez and Harry Baker, who is a wonderful jazz pianist, composer and arranger. Playing together with him involves a lot of improvisation. For me, these collaborations have always been a highly enjoyable process that expands the imagination. That's the most thrilling part.

Are there any wishes you have for the future of music?

Music is wonderful, powerful, beautiful, and brilliant. I'm so grateful that it has been such a big part of my life since I was very young.

I would love to see music be a big part in as many peoples' lives as possible because it's a whole world of wonder and imagination.

And I would very much love to see that everyone gets the opportunity to have a proper musical education.


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