Wednesday, July 20, 2016

On An Overgrown Path: BBC Young Musician Winner [Sheku Kanneh-Mason] to appear in documentary on BBC Four which will explore issues of diversity in classical music

Sheku Kanneh-Mason

Bob Shingleton of On An Overgrown Path forwards this press release from

Sheku Kanneh-Mason, winner of this year’s BBC Young Musician, will be the subject of a BBC Four for BBC Music (1x60) documentary, Young, Gifted and Classical (working title), along with his six musically gifted brothers and sisters. 

The 17-year-old cellist wowed audiences with his virtuosity this summer in the grand finale of BBC Young Musician 2016. When he went on to win, he not only won one of the most prestigious titles in classical music but also entered the history books as the first black winner of the competition.

Young, Gifted and Classical is one of a number of programmes commissioned as part of a wider Black and British season of factual programmes exploring diversity in November 2016.  The documentary will seek to follow the Kanneh-Mason family in the aftermath of Sheku’s BBC Young Musician win. His parents, Stuart and Kadiatu, who come from a modest background with no professional music experience, raised seven gifted children all of whom are passionate about classical music and perform to a virtuosic level. 
The children also perform in the junior and professional Chineke! Orchestras, which aim to provide a platform to encourage and support talented black musicians. The programme shines a light on the Chineke Foundation, which was founded by Chi-chi Nwanoku, and follows the Chineke! Orchestra as they prepare for a special concert at the Royal Festival Hall, London.
The observational documentary will also explore issues of diversity and access in classical music as well as looking at the human story and sacrifices that parents Stuart and Kadiatu made in order to support their children in pursuing their dreams. The seven children will also talk about their dedication to classical music and the programme will look more widely at the family dynamic and how they ended up becoming one of the most talented families in the UK.
Commenting on the commission Sheku said: I really hope this programme will inspire other young people from all backgrounds to take up classical music. Perhaps the documentary can go somewhere towards showing that classical music should be for everyone.”

Sheku’s mother, Kadiatu said: We want to be honest about the challenges to be faced by parents and children in pursuing the goal of becoming successful musicians. These challenges are financial as well as cultural and we hope this programme can celebrate what our young people can achieve.

Emma Cahusac, Executive Producer, BBC Arts & Music, said: “On BBC Television we’re constantly seeking fresh ways to tell extraordinary stories about classical music artists, putting them centre screen and supporting new young talent. Sheku’s virtuosity and his family’s amazing musical achievements along with their grit, determination and passion will make for a fascinating programme to follow-on from BBC Young Musician. We’re also absolutely committed to exploring pertinent issues about diversity within classical music which will be touched upon within this documentary as part of our wider Black and British season.”
Bridget Boseley, Executive Producer of Young, Gifted and Classical, said: “The documentary will be a fascinating exploration of how one ordinary family raised seven extraordinary children to all perform at virtuosic level in classical music. The programme will discover the level of commitment and dedication required to play to this standard and how this impacts on normal family life.”
Young, Gifted and Classical is part of the major new season, Black and British, announced earlier this year. Other programmes include David Olusoga's A Black History Of Britain; Black is the New Black, a landmark documentary series which explores what it means to be black and successful in Britain today on BBC Two; and Roots Reggae, Rasta & Rebellion on BBC Four, with British rapper, poet and cultural commentator Akala telling the story of a golden period in Jamaica’s musical history and its influence on the UK.
Young, Gifted and Classical is an Outline production, commissioned by Jan Younghusband, Head of Music TV Commissioning, for Cassian Harrison, Channel Editor, BBC Four. The Executive Producer for Outline is Director of Programmes Bridget Boseley and the Director is Eddie Hutton-Mills.


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