Sheku Kanneh-Mason + Sinfonia Cymru
Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff, Thu 7 Mar
The foyer of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama was buzzing with excitement to see the phenomenally talented cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Young Musician of the Year (2016), playing alongside the wonderful Sinfonia Cymru.
Sinfonia Cymru pride themselves on breaking the stereotypical orchestral experience They focus on the support and development of young musicians, giving them a platform to kickstart their careers.
Dressed glamorously in all black with hints of sparkles, Sinfonia Cymru began the performance playing Symphony No.1 in D Major composed by JS Bach’s heir, CPE Bach; a wonderful beginning to a magical evening. All instrument sections had an individuality, their unique styles played with such fluidity as a group, embracing the music with such enjoyment. It allowed their audience to be taken along and transported with them.
The evening was conducted by Jonathon Bloxham, whose casual yet enthusiastic introduction to the evening gave us a back-story to each piece, inviting his audience to become part of their journey.
Sinfonia Cymru are a great watch. Some of the members seems to transform when they start playing, such as the leader of the string section. Every phrase is executed with such flamboyance, enhanced by her passion.
This was a lovely prelude for musical sensation, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who entered the stage sheepishly bright, with a schoolboy-esque white shirt untucked, top button undone, bright red socks on show. But as he put bow to string he was spellbound, brought to life by the music; his physicality, facial expressions and puffs of breath, as he listens and is moved by the music’s story, interacting with his fellow musicians, taking pleasure in their musical conversation.
His cello, it seems, is an extra body part without which he’d be incomplete. When playing, he’s transported to another world. The ecstasy he brings to his performance, partnering his perfect technique, is enchanting, showcasing the most complex of phrases with not a single note out of place. With such ease and perfection, Sheku provides an extraordinary experience leaving his spectators picking their jaws up off the floor, executing every piece with such wisdom, spirit and musical maturity that exceeds his 19 years.
The Sinfonia Cymru was a sound to behold and Sheku Kanneh-Mason was utterly breathtaking.
words Eve Rowlands