Bradfield Festival of Music have brought off quite a coup after signing one of the music stars of the royal wedding to perform in the Sheffield village.
Rising star cellist Sheku Kenneh-Mason is appearing in the intimate setting of St Nicholas’ Church, High Bradfield a month after his performance at the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle was seen by hundreds of millions of TV viewers around the world.
The 19-year-old Royal Academy of Music student’s debut album, Inspirations, went straight to the top of the classical charts in January.
He’s been much in demand in concert halls around the world after winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year title two years ago.
One of the festival organisers Patricia Hunt, said the booking in 2016 was thanks to their president, cellist Julian Lloyd-Webber, who recommended Sheku when he won the BBC title as he thought it would be a great place for him to play.
Sheku’s appearance in Bradfield on Tuesday, June 26 has already sold out, sadly, when he will perform cello sonatas by Boccherini, Poulenc, Debussy and Brahms.
He will be accompanied by his sister Isata, who reached the piano finals of this year’s BBC Young Musician competition.
They come from an extraordinary Nottingham family of seven young musicians who appeared together on Britain’s Got Talent and perform as soloists and in other family ensembles.
Family members also play in the Chineke! Orchestra, the first professional orchestra in Europe to be made up of majority black and minority ethnic musicians, which has links to the Bradfield festival.
This year’s festival, running from June 23 to 30, is a feast of local, national and international musicians, said Patricia.
Other stars include the Camerata from the world-famous Amsterdam Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the virtuoso violinist Jennifer Pike, whose programme includes Vaughan William’s The Lark Ascending, which Patricia said always sounds especially glorious at Bradfield.
Other highlights include appearances by The London Tango Quintet with classical guitar star Craig Ogden, The Gould Piano Trio, playing Haydn, Schoenberg and Brahms, and Onyx Brass, performing both classical and jazz pieces.
Exciting local performers include Sheffield Young Musicians and the return of Albion Choir, more of which next week.
Patricia said that the festival’s enviable reputation is down to three things – quality of listening in audiences, great acoustics and the stunning setting above Sheffield.
She explained about quality of listening: “Two years ago, we had an ensemble from the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and they said often members of the audience will spend the whole concert holding up mobile phones to record them and listen later.”
That didn’t happen in Bradfield and the audience listened intently to the playing.
“They are professional musicians, so clearly they don’t play wrong notes, but it does affect their performance and they are inspired when the audience are listening carefully.”
Full details and bookings at Bradfield Festival of Music