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Black Gen Z cellist: 'Classical music is not racist'
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Oscar
2020-06-20 02:20:07 UTC
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YES! We're not so bad, now are we? So says the 21 year-old British cellist, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who is already a MBE for services to music _and_ is BFF with Harry and Sparkle. Alas, his 2020 Decca release of Elgar Cello Concerto recording with Rattle & LSO isn't that great, I'm afraid. Double-blind listening test confirmed. Blindingly average.


From Daily Mail:

<< Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, 21, insists classical music is not racist and lack of diversity in the industry is due to 'very few' black children being taught it

By Monica Greep
June 19, 2020

The cellist who played at the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle said classical music isn't a racist industry and that any lack of diversity is because 'very few' black children are introduced to the subject at a young age.

Sheku Kanneh-Mason, 21, from Nottingham, appeared on Good Morning Britain today via video link with his family, who are all accomplished musicians.

Speaking on the issue of representation within classical music, Sheku argued it was 'easy to point the finger' at the industry but that the issue started far earlier in life.

He said: 'I think it's easy to point the finger at classical music, but it starts earlier than the profession.

'It's more about the lack of diversity and opportunities in music education, I wouldn't say that classical music is a racist field.

'It's that very few black people can experience proper music education .'

When quizzed on racism in classical music, Sheku's father Stuart Mason said: 'What we've seen recently in the classical world things are getting better.

'But when you go to concerts and look at audiences, it is widely un-diverse and we would like this to change and our children are part of that.'

Sheku's mother, Dr Kadiatu Kanneh went on to explain that as parents she and Stuart wanted to make sure that regardless of the colour of their skin, their children felt they were able to thrive in whatever field they chose.

She said: 'It's difficult for parents, we wanted to make sure there was nothing they thought they couldn't do.

'We wanted to make sure every field they went into they had the sense they could do anything they wanted, and of course we're proud of what they've achieved undoubtably.'

Sheku's pianist sister Isata heaped on praise for her parents, who worked 'very hard' to ensure they had equal opportunities - but added that the whole family would like to see more opportunities for young black people, they

She told: 'We're very lucky, our parents worked very hard to make sure we got those opportunities, but they're not so easily available for everyone.

That is something we would like to see change, a lot of people have to rely on how things are in schools that's something we'd all like to see change.'

Sheku moved the nation to tears as the couple tied the knot in 2018, and earlier this month he and his family released a cover of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' in a touching tribute to those affected by racism. He received an MBE last year for his services to music. >>
Néstor Castiglione
2020-06-21 21:51:09 UTC
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I agree with your assessment of SKM's talents. Heard him at the Colburn last December. He wasn't bad at all, but neither did I understand the hype. Our dear local critic-generalissimo Mark Swed, of course, predictably gushed over the performance with his usual trademark glibness. (SKM's sister, I thought, was a more interesting musician.)

That said, he is right. Classical music isn't inherently "racist," nor does it need to fill quotas of "representation" in order to appeal to younger audiences. As a "BIPOC" myself (ugh, dreadful term!), I never felt that understanding of Beethoven, Webern, and Stravinsky was somehow closed off to me because they were "old white men" and I was not, nor that I required being condescended to for the sake of making the music "accessible." Thinking about music in "racial" terms simply never occurred to me. A young friend of mine, another Latino, also loves classical music and is an avid collector, especially of vintage vocal recordings. Both of us came from rough neighborhoods where access to classical music was limited, at best.

Love of classical music can be encouraged, yes, but it's also one of those things for which there is no "formula" and which can't be bottled. But one common sense step to foster interest among groups that traditionally shy away from classical music would be drastically cutting the price of admission for their concerts. Even the cheap seats at Disney Hall, for example, can cost the equivalent of, say, a bag of groceries or a family dinner at a take-out restaurant. Some chamber concerts are even more expensive. One series offers "student" pricing at $75! They could also widen accessibility to their concerts via streaming, broadcast, commercial recordings, etc. In the middle of the 20th century, most major American orchestras broadcasted their concerts (often in real time), allowing an audience larger than was possible to fit in at their respective home concert halls to tune in for free.

Now I'm not necessarily advocating for any of these things. I'm fully aware that such steps would also require widespread commensurate pay cuts and so on. But if those bemoaning the lack of diversity in classical music were really serious about expanding their audience, they could put their money with their mouths are. Implicitly racist condescension and "quotas" aren't the solution.
Post by Oscar
YES! We're not so bad, now are we? So says the 21 year-old British cellist, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who is already a MBE for services to music _and_ is BFF with Harry and Sparkle. Alas, his 2020 Decca release of Elgar Cello Concerto recording with Rattle & LSO isn't that great, I'm afraid. Double-blind listening test confirmed. Blindingly average.
<< Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, 21, insists classical music is not racist and lack of diversity in the industry is due to 'very few' black children being taught it
By Monica Greep
June 19, 2020
The cellist who played at the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle said classical music isn't a racist industry and that any lack of diversity is because 'very few' black children are introduced to the subject at a young age.
Sheku Kanneh-Mason, 21, from Nottingham, appeared on Good Morning Britain today via video link with his family, who are all accomplished musicians.
Speaking on the issue of representation within classical music, Sheku argued it was 'easy to point the finger' at the industry but that the issue started far earlier in life.
He said: 'I think it's easy to point the finger at classical music, but it starts earlier than the profession.
'It's more about the lack of diversity and opportunities in music education, I wouldn't say that classical music is a racist field.
'It's that very few black people can experience proper music education .'
When quizzed on racism in classical music, Sheku's father Stuart Mason said: 'What we've seen recently in the classical world things are getting better.
'But when you go to concerts and look at audiences, it is widely un-diverse and we would like this to change and our children are part of that.'
Sheku's mother, Dr Kadiatu Kanneh went on to explain that as parents she and Stuart wanted to make sure that regardless of the colour of their skin, their children felt they were able to thrive in whatever field they chose.
She said: 'It's difficult for parents, we wanted to make sure there was nothing they thought they couldn't do.
'We wanted to make sure every field they went into they had the sense they could do anything they wanted, and of course we're proud of what they've achieved undoubtably.'
Sheku's pianist sister Isata heaped on praise for her parents, who worked 'very hard' to ensure they had equal opportunities - but added that the whole family would like to see more opportunities for young black people, they
She told: 'We're very lucky, our parents worked very hard to make sure we got those opportunities, but they're not so easily available for everyone.
That is something we would like to see change, a lot of people have to rely on how things are in schools that's something we'd all like to see change.'
Sheku moved the nation to tears as the couple tied the knot in 2018, and earlier this month he and his family released a cover of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' in a touching tribute to those affected by racism. He received an MBE last year for his services to music. >>
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