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Friday 9 December 2016

Black youngsters need support to get into classical music, says star cellist

Published 10/11/2016 | 18:31

Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason scooped the 2016 BBC Young Musician award
Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason scooped the 2016 BBC Young Musician award

More should be done to encourage black youngsters into classical music, the winner of the BBC Young Musician competition has said.

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Sheku Kanneh-Mason, a cellist from Nottingham, became the first black winner of the prize In May and has since landed a record deal with Decca Records.

The 17-year-old is now calling for more music in schools and said he wants to inspire young black children.

The comprehensive school student said: "When a lot of people imagine classical music they don't picture much diversity so I think giving people the opportunity to see those role models would be great.

"I hope to inspire young black children to see classical music as something that they could possibly go into."

Kanneh-Mason, who plays in all black and multi ethnic orchestra Chineke! and is a ambassador for music education charity London Music Matters, said that if more youngsters heard and were educated in classical music " then they would have role models to look up to".

He added: "You might never want to go on to become a musician, but it's still so important. I'd love to help bring more music to schools."

The schoolboy became an overnight celebrity last year when he reached the semi-final of Britain's Got Talent with his brothers and sisters as part of a classical music group.

During their run in the competition Simon Cowell called them "the most talented family in the world" and Sheku's brother Braimah has since gone on to record with electronic group Clean Bandit and perform at the Mobo awards in Glasgow.

On his own record deal and award, Kanneh-Mason said: "It's amazing. If I look back five months before the Young Musician competition I couldn't see myself signing a record deal like this.

"It's a dream come true.

"It was a great feeling to get to the final and have the opportunity to play in the Barbican Hall and to win it changed my life. I met so many amazing musicians in the competition - it was a really nice competition to take part in."

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