Isata Kanneh-Mason is one of the rising stars appearing at this year’s Kenilworth Arts Festival. With her debut album dropping today (Friday 5th July), here are five things you need to know about this incredibly talented young pianist. 

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  1. Isata’s debut album focuses on the life and works of classical musician Clara Schumann.

    ‘Romance: The Piano Music of Clara Schumann’, was released on Friday 5th July 2019, coinciding with the 200th year since Schumann’s birth. Isata’s album takes us on a journey through Clara Schumann’s extraordinary life and shines a fresh light on her legacy as one of the Romantic era’s most distinguished pianists and composers. 

    The album features collaborations with leading female musicians, with the aim of highlighting the significant (if under-acknowledged!) contribution and impact women have had in the classical field over the years. Isata has spoken of her pride in representing the work of a strong female voice in classical music: “What struck me most about Clara Schumann is her incredible strength. Not only did she manage to sustain a long and demanding concert career (almost unheard of for a woman during her time!), she also raised a large family and dealt with inconceivable tragedies. I also come from a big family, and I am lucky to have been surrounded by many strong and inspiring women throughout my life.”

2. Isata is a BBC Young Musician of the Year Finalist and received the Elton John Scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music.
Isata appeared on the prestigious BBC Young Musician of the Year competition in 2014, and reached the final in her category. The year before, she was awarded an undergraduate scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music through the Elton John Scholarship Fund, and had the opportunity to perform with Elton John himself at a concert in Los Angeles. Isata continues her postgraduate education at the Royal Academy under the Gwendolyn Reiche scholarship.

Alongside her studies, Isata has already built up an impressive career, performing at major venues such as Carnegie Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw and the Barbican Centre, and making appearances on the BBC One Show, Radio 3, 4 and 6 and ITV’s Born to Shine.  

3. She is the eldest sibling of the multi-talented Kanneh-Mason family
Isata is one of seven siblings, all of whom are incredibly talented musicians. She regularly performs concerts with her siblings in a variety of set ups, including as a duo with her brother, cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who won the Young Musician of the Year competition in 2016 and has since performed around the world (including at the wedding of the duke and duchess of Sussex!). Isata and Sheku also feature in the Kanneh-Mason Trio, which was awarded the Royal Academy of Music Howard Craxton Chamber Music Prize in 2018. Meanwhile, the entire Kanneh-Mason family found fame in 2015 after reaching the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent, as the Kanneh-Mason Six.

Check out a video of Isata and Sheku performing on the Andrew Marr Show below. 

4. Isata’s debut album is being released by the legendary Decca Classics label
Now in its 90th year, Decca Classics has been a home to countless classical music stars, and continues to work with many of the world’s top musicians and performers. It is perhaps most famous for being the exclusive label for the most successful classical recording artist in history, Luciano Pavarotti. Decca Classics is also home to Isata’s brother, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who released his debut album in 2018. 

Decca’s Managing Director, Dr Alexander Buhr, has described Isata as ‘an immensely talented pianist with remarkable musicality and a curious mind, always ready to explore new musical horizons.’ High praise indeed! 

  1. You can see Isata at Kenilworth Arts Festival this September!
    As part of our 2019 festival, Isata will be performing a solo recital in the intimate setting of St. John’s Church on Thursday 26th September. The venue itself is a magical place to listen to any concert but we have a feeling that this one will be extra special. We couldn’t be any more excited to see this brilliant young and award-winning talent perform in Kenilworth. Tickets are just £14 (or £12 for concessions) and are on sale now, online on WeGotTickets.

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If you would like to keep up with Isata you can follow her on Facebook and Instagram. Romance is released today and can be purchased online or streamed through all major platforms. Have a listen and and get excited about what a wonderful treat we are all in for in September!