BBC Young Musician 2016 winner Sheku Kanneh-Mason has signed a major record deal with Decca Classics.

The label will support the 17-year-old cellist in his studies and help nurture his musical career in a long-term partnership.

Photo: Shawn Ryan
Photo: Shawn Ryan

He signed his record contract on board a bus named in his honour by Nottingham City Council following his BBC Young Musician triumph earlier this year.

Kanneh-Mason will record Shostakovich’s first cello concerto for the label next year. His performance of the piece in the BBC Young Musician finals was described by judges as ‘electrifying, sincere and moving’, and saw him become the competition’s first black winner in its 38-year history.

‘It is a great honour for me to be joining the Decca Classics family and following in the footsteps of great artists like Mstislav Rostropovich, my musical hero,’ Kanneh-Mason said. ‘I’m excited to take the next step on my journey and look forward to bringing my passion for classical music to a wider audience.’

The cellist, who won the Royal Philharmonic Society Young Instrumentalist Duet Prize 2016, holds the ABRSM Junior Scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, where he studies with Ben Davies.

He plays with Chineke!, with whom he played the Haydn cello concerto in September 2016, and also plays principal cello in the Chineke! Junior Orchestra, and is junior ambassador for London Music Masters.

He will appear in the BBC Four documentary Young, Gifted and Classical: The Making of A Maestro, which airs at 8pm on 20 November.

Dr Alexander Buhr, managing director of Decca Classics, described the cellist as ‘an astonishingly gifted young musician with incredible energy and a burning passion for his music’, adding: ‘We are thrilled to be partnering with Sheku to help foster his remarkable talent through ongoing support for his musical studies and opportunities to record with leading artists. I can’t wait to see him grow and develop in the coming years and we will be by his side every step of the way.’