The cellist is the orchestra’s 2024 MAC Music Innovator, a role that works to showcase and highlight Black leaders of classical music


Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason © Ollie Ali

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The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) has named British cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason as its 2024 MAC Music Innovator. 

The CSO’s MAC Music Innovator is a year-long music residency that works to showcase and highlight Black leaders of classical music. Selected musicians embody artistic innovation and a passion for community engagement and education. As the MAC Music Innovator, Kanneh-Mason’s residency will include masterclasses with area students and chamber performances and culminate with performances with the CSO on 26 and 27 April at Music Hall, where he will make his CSO debut performing Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto with the Orchestra led by guest conductor Katharina Wincor.

’I’m really excited to have a closer relationship with CSO via this wonderful MAC Music Innovator role,’ said Kanneh-Mason. ’It’s always a privilege to be involved with education projects as well as orchestral performances. It’s my first time in the city so it will be nice to get to know the city, the orchestra and the audiences, as well.’

’Sheku’s mission to make music accessible to all really resonated with us and aligns with the intent of the MAC Music Innovator programme which was created to showcase Black classical musicians who demonstrate artistic excellence as well as a passion for community engagement,’ said Jonathan Martin, president and CEO of the CSO. ’We are thrilled to have Sheku with the CSO this season, and we’re excited to see the impact he will have on local students and the broader community.’

Kanneh-Mason is the seventh MAC Music Innovator since the residency’s inception in 2018, succeeding bassist Endea Owens (2023), conductor Antoine Clark (2022), composer and pianist William Menefield (2021), composer and drummer Mark Lomax (2020), pianist Michelle Cann (2019), and violinist Kelly Hall-Thomas (2018).

This announcement is the latest in the cellist’s string of roles, which include global ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and ambassador for Future Talent and Patron of Music Masters charities.

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