Isata Kanneh-Mason

Pianist Isata is Set for Stardom

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

A 17-year old Nottingham girl who appeared on stage alongside Elton John has reached the finals of the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition.

Pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason will come up against four other students in the keyboard category in the battle to reach the grand final.

It comes just weeks after the talented teenager accompanied superstar Elton John on stage in a Los Angeles concert as he performed some of his new tracks.

She met him backstage before the gig, as he listened to her playing the piano.

She said: “He was really nice and funny as well. Being on stage with him was amazing.

“His band were on as well. It was one of the best experiences.

“He played some new songs when I was on stage, which lasted around 30 minutes in all. I got to watch the rest of the gig, where he played some of his big hits.”

Young Musician of the Year is to be broadcast on BBC 4 and BBC Radio 3. The category finals are pre-recorded and the main final will be shown live on May 18.

Isata, who is in Year 13 at Trinity School, in Aspley, said: “I was so excited when I found out I had qualified.

“It’s a great experience. I want to play the piano for a career so this is giving me a great start.”

Isata entered the competition after being advised to do so by her music tutor.

The regional competitors were whittled down to around 30 per category, with five from across the country being selected for the category finals.

The category finals will take place from March 3 to 7 in the Dora Stoutzker Hall, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff.

The winner of each of the five categories – keyboard, strings, woodwind, brass and percussion – will then take part in the semi-finals at the same venue on March 9.

The top three will make it through to the grand final at Usher Hall in Edinburgh.

Isata added: “I’m looking forward to going to the finals. I hope I can get as far as I can.”

Isata has been playing the piano since she was six.

Musical talent runs through the family, with her mother Kadie and father Stuart more than capable pianists.

Her brothers Braimah and Sheku, 16 and 14, and sisters Konya and Jeneba, 13 and 11, also play the piano along with other instruments.

The five siblings travel to the Royal Academy of Music in London every Saturday, leaving home at 6.30am and returning at 8pm. Isata has been given a scholarship to study at the academy for four years from September after completing her A-levels in English, performance studies and music.

She added: “I just love music. I listen to it all the time, different kinds of music.

“But I like playing classical music on the piano.

“I play the piano when I get home from school every day and on Sundays and then go to London every week.

“It can be quite challenging at times, fitting it all in with my studies, but I am determined to be successful.”

It was through the academy that Isata had the chance to play with Elton John.

He backs the academy and asked staff for a pianist who could accompany him on stage. They chose Isata.

Her mum Kadie, 47, said: “We are so proud of how she has done.

“She is very talented and hard-working and deserves to be successful.”

 

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