Sheku Kanneh-Mason – BBC Young Musician 2016

Sheku Kanneh-Mason won the BBC Young Musician 2016 competition last weekend.

Sorry, if I’ve spoiled the surprise for you, but his winning was so resolute, uncompromising and utterly wonderful, that your enjoyment of seeing him attack Shostakovich’s sinister first cello concerto won’t be dented in any way knowing the result beforehand.

It is an incredible thing when compelling performances cast a spell over an audience. It might even be unbelievable when the person responsible for it is only 17 years old.

Perhaps we shouldn’t really be surprised. Sheku passed his Grade 8 when he was just 9 years old too, gaining the highest score in the UK the year he took it. What strikes me as amazing is how the spell he cast during his performance was communicated via TV and radio.

Sheku has a remarkable talent. Of course, it is right that his development continues. Competitions are not there to unleash fully-fledged performers  onto the world stage. They are there to highlight the amazing talent this country produces, something which serves to underline how important classical music remains in our culture and our education system.

I’d recommend watching Sheku’s performance on BBC iPlayer.

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