“I was bowled over when Meghan Markle called me”: meet the 19-year-old cellist playing at the Royal Wedding

Britain's Got Talent star and BBC Young Musician of the Year 2016 Sheku Kanneh-Mason will play at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding

(Getty)

With Prince Harry and Meghan Markle taking what Kensington Palace describe as a “great deal of interest and care” in choosing the music for their wedding service, it was never going to be a wholly conventional repertoire.

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There have been press reports that the programme will have an “American slant” to reflect Meghan’s heritage, but there will also be well-known hymns and choral works. With the guest list boasting a gospel choir and a cellist who made his debut on Britain’s Got Talent, it promises to be a musically inclusive occasion.

Nineteen-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, one of seven musically gifted siblings, first came to the nation’s attention on the ITV entertainment show in 2015.

He then won BBC Young Musician in 2016 and last year performed at the Bafta Film Awards and BBC Proms. The invitation to play at the royal wedding came in a phone call from Meghan herself. “I was bowled over when Ms Markle called me,” he says. “I am so excited and honoured.”

When RT interviewed Sheku and his family two years ago, we got a clue to the reasons for his success. Dad, Stuart, told us: “When [older brother] Braimah and Sheku auditioned for the Royal Academy of Music, we’d be in bed and could hear them practising in the bathroom at 5am.”

While the choristers of St George’s provide the traditional vocal accompaniment under their director of music, James Vivian, the chapel roof will be lifted by the Kingdom Gospel Choir, conducted by Karen Gibson.

Welsh soprano Elin Manahan Thomas joins an orchestra made up of musicians from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the English Chamber Orchestra and the Philharmonia.

The conductor will be Christopher WarrenGreen, who also performed at the weddings of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall in 2005 and the Duke and Duchess.

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The Royal Wedding will be televised from 9am on BBC1, ITV, Sky 1 and Sky News. Radio listeners can tune in to Chris Evans, who kicks off the coverage at 8am on Radio 2. 

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