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Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Cello
Isata Kanneh-Mason, Piano

Wednesday, December 11, 2019 7:30 PM Weill Recital Hall
Sheku Kanneh-Mason by Lars Borges, Isata Kanneh-Mason by Robin Clewley
Sheku Kanneh-Mason has been praised for his “fulsome tone” and called a “global phenomenon” (The Telegraph). The 2016 BBC Young Musician of the Year has played at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, dazzled in appearances around the globe, and now makes his New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall. You will want to be there for the historic occasion when he performs an exuberant set of Beethoven variations, an early Barber sonata, a rapturously beautiful Rachmaninoff work, and more.

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Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Cello
NY Recital Debut
Isata Kanneh-Mason, Piano


BEETHOVEN Twelve Variations on "Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen," Op. 66


BARBER Cello Sonata, Op. 6

RACHMANINOFF Cello Sonata in G Minor

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately 90 minutes, including one 20-minute intermission.

Salon Encores

Get together with people who love music after this Weill Recital Hall concert for a free drink and discussion with the evening's musicians.
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Distinctive Debuts is supported by endowment gifts from The Lizabeth and Frank Newman Charitable Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF).

National Endowment for the Arts: arts.gov

Public support for Carnegie Hall Live on WQXR is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

In honor of the centenary of his birth, Carnegie Hall’s 2019–2020 season is dedicated to the memory of Isaac Stern in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to Carnegie Hall, arts advocacy, and the field of music.

At a Glance

BEETHOVEN  Twelve Variations on “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen,” Op. 66

Throughout his career, Beethoven composed dozens of theme-and-variation sets and shorter pieces, both to replenish his repertoire as a concert pianist and to satisfy public demand for music in lighter, crowd-pleasing genres. The early variations on Papageno’s aria from Mozart’s Magic Flute give both the pianist and cellist opportunities to shine.



Polish composer Witold Lutosławski established his reputation in the second half of the 20th century with such works as the modernist tone poem Mi-Parti, the vividly dramatic Cello Concerto, the dreamy Les espaces du sommeil for baritone and orchestra, and the richly colored Third Symphony. This small-scale tonal essay attests to his affinity for Debussy’s music.


BARBER  Cello Sonata, Op. 6

American composer Samuel Barber remained committed to the time-honored virtues of lyricism and elegant craftsmanship long after his warmly neo-Romantic style had fallen out of fashion in the early 20th century. These qualities are evident in his Cello Sonata from 1932, a student work that quickly won a place in the instrument’s core repertoire.


RACHMANINOFF  Cello Sonata in G Minor, Op. 19

Rachmaninoff remained an unabashed champion of Romanticism long past the style’s sell-by date in the first half of the 20th century. The lush and impetuously lyrical language that characterizes such early works as the G-Minor Cello Sonata of 1901 remained the pianist-composer’s stock in trade for the remaining four decades of his life. Rachmaninoff’s soaring melodies, richly upholstered textures, and highly idiomatic writing for both cello and piano have made the work a favorite of musicians and audiences alike.


Sheku Kanneh-Mason

Sheku Kanneh-Mason, winner of the 2016 BBC Young Musician competition, became a household name worldwide in May 2018 after performing at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. His ...

Sheku Kanneh-Mason, winner of the 2016 BBC Young Musician competition, became a household name worldwide in May 2018 after performing at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. His debut recording for Decca Classics, Inspiration, featured Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla. Also featured on the album was Sheku’s own arrangement of Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry,” which was streamed on Spotify more than one million times in the month after its release. That same year, Sheku was named Male Artist of the Year and Critics’ Choice at the Classic BRIT Awards. He also became the first artist to receive the BRIT Certified Breakthrough Award, having sold more than 30,000 copies of his debut album in the UK and surpassing 100,000 album sales worldwide.

Sheku has already performed with international orchestras, including debuts with the Seattle Symphony, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and Japan Philharmonic Orchestra. He also performed Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in his hometown of Nottingham. In 2017, Sheku made his BBC Proms debut at Royal Albert Hall as soloist with the Chineke! Orchestra.

This season, Sheku performs with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and makes debuts with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, among others. Recital appearances include debuts at the Barbican Centre’s Milton Court, Wigmore Hall, Zurich Tonhalle, and Lucerne Festival, as well as a major North American tour that includes concerts in Boston, Los Angeles, and Berkeley.

Sheku is passionate about the importance of making classical music accessible to all and is currently the first London Music Masters Junior Ambassador. Last season, he began a two-year role as Young Artist in Residence at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, where he is also involved in the orchestra’s education program.

Sheku is currently a full-time student at the Royal Academy of Music, where he studies with Hannah Roberts. As a chamber musician, he is one-third of the Kanneh-Mason Trio alongside his sister, Isata, and brother, Braimah. Sheku plays an Antonius and Hieronymus Amati cello, circa 1610, kindly on loan from a private collection.

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Isata Kanneh-Mason

Isata Kanneh-Mason’s debut album, Romance, drew popular and critical acclaim, including praise from Gramophone magazine as “one of the most charming and engaging debuts.” ...

Isata Kanneh-Mason’s debut album, Romance, drew popular and critical acclaim, including praise from Gramophone magazine as “one of the most charming and engaging debuts.” Isata recorded the all–Clara Schumann disc for Decca Classics to mark the composer-pianist’s 200th birthday, selecting works from across her compositional output. In addition to solo piano works, Isata performed chamber music with violinist Elena Urioste and the composer’s Piano Concerto with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Holly Mathieson.

While continuing her postgraduate studies with Carole Presland at London’s Royal Academy of Music, Isata has embarked on a successful and increasingly busy concert career, with solo recitals, chamber concerts, and concerto appearances across the UK and abroad, including her debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall. Her festival appearances include the Barbican Centre’s Sound Unbound, Colour of Music in South Carolina, Snape Proms, Musikfestspiele Saar, Edinburgh, Cheltenham, and Bath.

Isata also continues to perform with her siblings, including frequent duo recitals with her brother, cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason. Highlights this season include a tour of Italy; appearances at Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, and the Rheingau and Edinburgh festivals; and an extensive North American tour that includes a return to the Vancouver Recital Society.

Isata completed her undergraduate degree at the Royal Academy of Music as an Elton John Scholarship recipient. In 2013, she performed with Sir Elton in Los Angeles. The following year, she reached her category final in the BBC Young Musician competition, winning the Walter Todds Bursary. Her performances have since been featured on television and radio broadcasts across the UK and in the US, including CBS Sunday Morning.

Isata is grateful for support from the Nottingham Soroptimist Trust, Mr. and Mrs. John Bryden, Frank White, and Awards for Young Musicians.

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