(c) John Davis

Isata Kanneh-Mason is the recipient of numerous awards, both as a solo artist and as a member of the Kanneh-Mason family. Her debut album of music by Clara Schumann entered the UK classical charts at No.1.

Since graduating from the Royal Academy of Music in 2020, Isata has embarked on a successful and increasingly busy concert career, with concerto appearances, solo recitals and chamber concerts throughout the UK and abroad. We caught up with Isata ahead of commmencing her residency to find out more about her influences and more...

What has been the biggest inspiration throughout your musical life?

I would say the people around me – no one person – my parents, family, friends, peers – all the people who have supported me.

What draws you most to the music of Clara Schumann?

I first heard her Piano Concerto and really loved it and thought it was passionate and exciting. I could imagine myself playing it and then went on to discover more of her music...

Isata Kanneh Mason 2 RPO Artist in Residence Cadogan Hall 2022 2023 900x459

Isata received the 2021 Leonard Bernstein Award as part of the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival.

What types of performance are you happiest playing in – solo, chamber or orchestral settings?

Chamber music because there's nothing above playing in a small group of musicians where you can all feed off each other - it's just the most exciting type of music-making to me.

Are there any musicians in your generation who you look up to in particular?

Tom Poster and Elena Urioste. I love the way they make music, they are both passionate about chamber music. I’ve played with them quite a bit and they’re lovely to collaborate with and they make music in a way that I really agree with and admire.

With the past few years of dramatic change to our way of life, has your attitude to music and performing live changed at all?

I think I have a greater appreciation for live performance and the spontaneity of being on stage and having the live audience there with you.

What words of encouragement would you give to young people wanting to get into performing classical and orchestral music?

Music can feel both social and quite isolating so I would really suggest if you’re feeling the latter to search for other young musicians. With a little research you’ll find other young musicians and orchestras and small groups and if you join them, you’ll make great friends through music...

What music do you enjoy listening to outside of the classical world?

R&B, Reggae and Soul.

Hear her perform Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No.3 on Thursday 2 March 2023.

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Isata performs the Hungarian composer Ernő Dohnányi’s Variations on a Nursery Song on Wednesday 3 May 2023.

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