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Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason Receives MBE

The 22-year-old was presented with Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his contributions to music


Sheku Kanneh-Mason was appointed an MBE in the 2020 New Year’s Honors List and was recently bestowed the award in the UK. 

The MBE is the third highest-ranking Order of the British Empire award, behind the first which is CBE (Commander), followed by OBE (Officer).

“It was so exciting to attend the investiture at Windsor Castle last week to accept my MBE and to be given this honour means a massive amount to me and my family,” Sheku told The Violin Channel.

He joins musicians such as saxophonist Jess Gillam and Berlin Philharmonic horn-player Sarah Willis as recipients of the MBE — who were awarded on the Queen's Birthday Honors List in June this year.



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Sheku’s upcoming solo performances include those with the Cleveland Orchestra, Orchestre De Paris, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Barcelona Symphony, New York, Czech, and London Philharmonic Orchestras — and a tour with the City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

His recital engagements have seen him perform in venues such as Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, Zurich Tonhalle, Théâtre Des Champs Elysées Paris, Teatro Della Pergola Florence, L’auditori Barcelona; and at the Edinburgh, Cheltenham, Lucerne, Verbier, and Aldeburgh festivals.

Since debuting at the BBC Proms in 2017, Sheku has performed at the event every summer, including in 2020 when he performed with his sister Isata Kanneh-Mason to an empty auditorium due to COVID-19 restrictions.

During the pandemic lockdowns, he and his siblings also performed in regular livestreams from their Nottingham family home to an international audience of thousands.  

In 2016, Sheku received the BBC Young Musician of the Year accolade and received the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Young Artists’ Award last year. According to the BBC, he is the highest-charting cellist of all-time in the UK, after his 2020 album “Elgar” reached number eight.




Beginning the cello at age six, he studied with Sarah Huson-Whyte and later with Ben Davies at the Royal Academy of Music’s (RAM) Junior Department. Sheku now continues his studies with Hannah Roberts at RAM.

His other mentors have included Guy Johnston, Ralph Kirshbaum, Robert Max, Alexander Baillie, Steven Doane, Rafael Wallfisch, Jo Cole, Melissa Phelps, Julian Lloyd Webber, Frans Helmerson, and Miklos Perenyi.

Sheku plays on a 1700 Matteo Goffriller cello which is loaned to him indefinitely.

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