Pianist Isata Kaneh Mason (26 years old): “Silence is difficult in a family where everyone makes music”

As the “Jackson Family of Classics,” six children of one family – number seven was too young – reached the semi-finals of the popular TV show seven years ago. british talent† Currently, two of them also experienced a decisive breakthrough into the classical world in the aftermath. Cellist Chico Kaneh-Mason became the first black winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year and performed at the wedding of Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Read also This interview is with cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason

The eldest of seven children followed in his footsteps, 26-year-old pianist Isata Kaneh-Mason. Her first album romantic The film (2019), cut by Clara Schumann, reached number one in the UK classic charts immediately upon its release. Last year I received two major awards. This season she was chosen by the European Concert Hall Organization (ECHO) – where about twenty large halls work together – as one of the six rising stars. In that series, she will make her debut Wednesday night at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw.

The program is a fine reflection on how Kanet-Mason presented herself as a pianist: looking from the famous classical (Mozart and Beethoven) and romance (Chopin and Rachmaninoff) repertoires—with whom she grew up as a child—into the more unknown and the new. Work by black musicians and composers that has often been unjustly neglected.


In the Kleine Zaal, intensity is explained Shakun by Russian composer Sofia Gobidulina. In addition, the British Jamaican Eleanor Alberga wrote the piece for her cwicseolforor mercury. “I discovered her music online,” Kanneh-Mason says. “Her energetic style pulls me in, so when the question came to play a new act, I reached out to her. She brought up our Zoom conversation cwicseolfor forth. The inspiration was Alberga’s visit to a laboratory, where she saw a drop of mercury in a bowl. She was fascinated by how eccentric and wonderful beauty this metal moved and shaped. The music reflects what the scene of feelings evoked in it.”

Isata Kanneh-Mason, like her two brothers and four sisters, received a solid education at a public school in Nottingham, where music played an important role in the curriculum, a rarity in the rapidly deteriorating British education system. Her mother, Kadiatu Kaneh, came to England when she was eight years old and studied English at the University of Birmingham. Father Stuart Mason, the son of immigrants from Antigua, works in the hotel industry. Both wanted to pass on their musical love to their children.

Kadiatu Kanneh wrote a book about how and why two years ago House of Music: Upbringing of the Freemason Penthouse† She won a Storytelling Award from the Royal Philharmonic Society in November, where the jury found, “a poignant account of raising children and nurturing their creativity. It encompasses what is truly human in the interpretation of classical music.”

All children received piano lessons and were allowed to choose a second instrument, usually the violin. With four pianos in the house – two of them in one room – the atmosphere has seldom been quiet. “Silence is complicated in a family where everyone plays,” she says. “Every day I look for a quiet place where I leave the world of sound behind. I think that is important. Music also contains silence. I want to be able to create that. Because they are just as important as nuts.”

Around her first public concert at the age of eight, Kanneh-Mason discovered that a pianist could also be a career. After that she did not look back. “There were so many pieces, especially by Rachmaninoff and Schubert, that evoked a physical sensation. Something deep I still couldn’t comprehend in thoughts or words. That’s why I wanted to play, so that I could feel them flowing through my veins.”


Isata Kanneh-Mason grew up with the albums of Vladimir Ashkenazi and Martha Argerich. “Their energy captured my imagination. As Argerich invaded as a young woman a place in what was a male bastion of her time. Embodied in my eyes the passion for music, every scale is living matter. I love this making music about life and death.”

Although Kanneh-Mason also knows the shadow side, which Argerich often falls prey to. “Stage fear can overwhelm you. Many musicians suffer from it. Me too. It doesn’t wear out with age. You can’t dispel fear, so I’ve learned to accept it. Adrenaline can also help to go deeper, to amplify excitement or expression. I don’t A ritual beforehand. The more you have, the more troublesome if you forget or can’t perform it.”

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