Virtuoso cello star Kanneh-Mason to reopen Fairfield Halls

Sheku Kanneh-Mason: cello star will be performing with LMP at the reopening of the Fairfield Halls. Photo: Jake Turney

Sheku Kanneh-Mason, one of the fastest rising stars of classical music, will be playing at the Fairfield Halls next month, in the Croydon art centre’s first live performances since covid lockdown began in March 2020.

Kanneh-Mason is so good, he’s playing the concert twice – because of covid-19 precautions, only half the usual number of concert-goers can attend at one time, so the virtuoso cellist and the London Mozart Players, the Fairfield Halls’ resident orchestra, will be playing at 4pm and 7.30pm, in common with other performances in a series.

Now 22, Kanneh-Mason attracted national plaudits in 2016 when he became the first black musician to win the BBC’s Young Musician of the Year. And in 2018, Kanneh-Mason drew worldwide acclaim when he played at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Kanneh-Mason’s concerts will be the first of a series in June and October by the London Mozart Players, backed by the Arts Council, called Spotlight On… which will showcase four exceptional young talents of the classical music world, each of them younger than 25.

As well as Kanneh-Mason, the Fairfield Halls concerts will feature saxophonist Jess Gillam and violinist Leia Zhu. The fourth performance, to be held at the Cadogan Halls in central London, will feature Sheku’s sister, pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason.

The London Mozart Players are putting the spotlight on youth

The June 4 concerts will feature Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, performed in its full version under the baton of Jaime Martín, alongside Mendelssohn’s Hebrides overture.

Kanneh-Mason and London Mozart Players share an association that began in 2017, including their sell-out concert in January 2020. The cellist has already been booked to appear in their 2021-2022 season.

All the concerts in the series will be filmed and made available online – with schools having free access to the recordings with specially designed “listening guides”, targeted at different age groups from four years old to 18, as part of the LMP’s efforts to reach out to more than 100,000 youngsters in 2021.

The London Mozart Players said today, “The Spotlight On… series is a continuation of our proud 72-year tradition of supporting rising stars, with the young Jacqueline du Pré, Nicola Benedetti and Michael Collins just three of many outstanding musicians who performed with LMP at the start of their careers.”

The LMP is the only professional orchestra in the UK that is managed entirely by its players. Alongside the concerts, LMP has planned an extensive programme of education work, enabling the stars of today to inspire the next generation of musicians in the Croydon.

The Spotlight On… musicians will hold Q&As with local primary school children and older players, lead masterclasses and workshops (with wind and string players from Croydon Music & Arts and aspiring young pianists from schools in Croydon). Fairfield Halls is the cultural heart of the borough and LMP will be using it to showcase Croydon’s young talent as part of the series, including pre-concert performances in the foyer of Fairfield Halls from local cello and saxophone ensembles.


Gillam, a past finalist in the BBC Young Musician competition, will accompany the London Mozart Players at Fairfield Halls on June 24 with two spectacular works for saxophone: Michael Nyman’s concerto, Where the Bee Dances, and Glazunov’s 1934 Saxophone Concerto, the composer’s last work. The programme is completed with Mozart’s Haffner Symphony No35, conducted by Jonathan Bloxham. The filmed concert will be available online from 18 September.

Appearing at Cadogan Hall on June 26 will be Isata Kanneh-Mason, four-time winner of the Royal Academy Iris Dyer Piano Prize. Together with the LMP, she will play Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No1. Kanneh-Mason will be joined on stage by Stephanie Childress, also in her LMP debut, to conducts London Mozart Players in Beethoven’s Symphony No2. The filmed concert will be available online from July 3.

Violin girl: Leia Zhu, playing at the Fairfield in October

The Spotlight On… series concludes on October 9, as 14-year-old violinist Leia Zhu brings her prodigious talents to Fairfield Halls in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. Conducted by Gerard Korsten, London Mozart Players also present Beethoven’s Symphony No8 and the overture to Mozart’s Magic Flute. The filmed concert will be available online from October 16.

Zhu, from Newcastle, is already something of an internet sensation: she has attracted thousands of subscribers on her YouTube channel “The Violin Girl”.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to be returning to the concert platform with a live audience whom we have missed so much, to perform alongside these supremely talented ambassadors for classical music,” said Julia Desbruslais, the LMP’s executive director.

“We hope that the Spotlight On… series will not only bring audiences flooding back to the Concert Hall, but through our extensive education programme, young people will be inspired and motivated to want to experience the joy and enrichment that engagement with classical music can bring.”

Tickets to the Spotlight On… series are available from

  • If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, or want to publicise your residents’ association or business, or if you have a local event to promote, please email us with full details at
  • Inside Croydon is a member of the Independent Community News Network
  • Inside Croydon works together with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and BBC London News
  • ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS: Croydon was named the country’s rottenest borough in 2020 in the annual round-up of civic cock-ups in Private Eye magazine – the fourth successive year that Inside Croydon has been the source for such award-winning nominations
  • Inside Croydon: 3million page views in 2020. Seen by 1.4million unique visitors

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in Art, Fairfield Halls, London Mozart Players, Music and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Virtuoso cello star Kanneh-Mason to reopen Fairfield Halls

  1. Chris Flynn says:

    Great! I’ve seen Sheku in Clapham and Maidstone, so think it’s great he’s coming to Croydon. But I’ve never been to the Fairfield Halls, and the ticketing options are £40, £25 or £15. Does that correspond to front, middle and back of the hall? Can’t seem to find any answer on their website…

    • In the good old days, before a few corrupt inept arseholes in Croydon Labour Party fucked up the renovation of the Fairfield Halls, the venue’s website booking system allowed you to see what seats were available and their position in respect of the stage, then make your purchase.

      Now with BH Live you get told the seat you’re getting and have to refer to a blurry PDF to see where it is.

      BH stands for Bloody Hopeless.

Leave a Reply