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18 SEPTEMBER 2020 (TORONTO, ON) - Decca Classics announces the release of Carnival, a very special collaboration between Academy Award-winning actor Olivia Colman, children’s author Michael Morpurgo and the seven “extraordinarily talented” (Classic FM) Kanneh-Mason siblings – Isata, Braimah, Sheku, Konya, Jeneba, Aminata and Mariatu. The brand-new Kanneh-Mason album, their first as a family, will be released on November 6, 2020.


Recorded at London’s Abbey Road Studios, the release includes new poems written by War Horse author Morpurgo to accompany French composer Saint-Saëns’ beloved musical suite ‘Carnival of the Animals’. The poems are read by the author himself, joined by The Favourite actor Colman, and guest musicians complete the ensemble for the suite.


On working with the Kanneh-Masons, Morpurgo says, “These young people are remarkable, not because they are young, not because they are the seven siblings from one family, but simply because they make magnificent music together, and it is evident they love doing it. Hear them and you know it. See them and you know it.”

Along with Colman’s readings interposing the humorous suite ‘Carnival of the Animals’, which represents different animals through descriptive musical motifs, the recording features Morpurgo’s heart-warming Grandpa Christmas story, set to music for the first time with classic tracks including ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’, ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ and ‘Sea Murmurs’. Morpurgo reads the role of Grandpa, with the youngest Kanneh-Mason, Mariatu, reading his granddaughter.


Carnival is the debut recording for youngest sisters Konya, Jeneba, Aminata and Mariatu. It includes a new arrangement of Eric Whitacre’s ‘The Seal Lullaby’ featuring all seven siblings, aged between 11-24. There is also the Kanneh-Masons’ own arrangement of Bob Marley’s iconic hit ‘Redemption Song’, marking 40 years since its release in 1980 – fewer than five years before the singer’s death.


The stunning artwork for Carnival has been specially commissioned from children’s illustrator Emma Chichester Clark, who has created a colourful storybook world featuring vibrant birds, friendly kangaroos, curious elephants and all seven of the Kanneh-Mason siblings – depicted, of course, with their instruments.


For the Kanneh-Masons, 2020 has presented one overriding positive: the opportunity for all members of the family to join together at home for the first time in over five years, performing together and sharing their extraordinary talents with the world via a series of livestreams, watched by millions around the world. In recent months, the Kanneh-Masons have found time to reflect:


“This album has grown from our passion as a family for making music together. This has been a heart-breaking time for musicians and performing artists. We want to share our love of music and our passion for communication. As young children, the power of combining music with storytelling is truly magical and we are honoured to have collaborated with Michael Morpurgo, Olivia Colman and the wonderful musicians who joined us, to create music that celebrates our connection with the natural world. Together, we want to inspire children and adults to listen more closely, to value our world and all the diversity within.”


The family are passionate about music education and Sheku, who is still studying himself, has inspired many children to take up the cello – dubbed ‘The Sheku Effect’ (New York Times). While Sheku and Isata enjoy successful solo careers, they also appear internationally as a duo with performances ranging from New York’s Carnegie Hall to London’s Royal Albert Hall. Their most recent concerts in the UK earned glowing reviews, praising their “sibling harmony” (Observer) and “powerful impact” (Financial Times). Together with their brother Braimah, they often perform together as the Kanneh-Mason Trio, having toured in the UK, US and in the Caribbean. Braimah, who leads the ensemble on this new Carnival recording, gives regular concert performances in the UK and sometimes appears with Clean Bandit, performing on the band’s No. 1 single ‘Rockabye’.


In July 2020, the family featured in a special UK TV documentary, BBC One’s Imagine… This House is Full of Music, sharing intimate details of their life behind the doors of their Nottingham home. The programme, filmed remotely, featured “superb” (The Times) and “flawless” (The Guardian) musical vignettes interspersed with interviews with the “absurdly talented” (Telegraph) siblings – each given their moment to shine – and parents Stuart and Kadiatu. Kadiatu recently released her first book, a memoir entitled ‘House of Music: Raising the Kanneh-Masons’. All seven siblings are set to perform together in concert at London’s Barbican Hall on 22nd October, with the live performance streamed online.


While Carnival marks the first Kanneh-Mason family album, Sheku and Isata have each released their own solo albums. Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who rose to fame after winning BBC Young Musician 2016 and later performed at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, has released two albums – the most recent, Elgar, proved a chart hit when it was released in January, with 14 consecutive weeks at No.1 on the Australian Classical Chart and reaching No.8 in the UK Official Album Chart. Meanwhile, Isata landed Germany’s prestigious Opus Klassik Young Artist award for her debut album Romance: The Piano Music of Clara Schumann.


Speaking of his collaboration with the Kanneh-Masons, Michael Morpurgo concludes: “To be making music and stories and poems with people of such talent, lifted our spirits, gave hope and happiness to everyone there, at a time when we all needed it most, left us all inspired to create a better world for all of us after this is over. I hope and believe all of you will feel the same once you have heard it.”


The Kanneh-Masons’ Carnival is released on Decca Classics on November 6, 2020.

It will be available digitally as well as CD, 2LP vinyl and a deluxe hardback book with CD.


About the Kanneh-Masons

The Kanneh-Masons are seven brothers and sisters ranging in age from 11 to 24 years old, all of whom play either violin, piano or cello. Described as “the world’s most musical family” by Simon Cowell, they have won many awards and appeared on numerous TV shows; the five eldest performed at the BAFTA awards in 2018 and all seven appeared on the 2019 Royal Variety Performance in the UK. They have also been the subject of a number of documentaries, including CBS Sunday Morning, BBC One’s Imagine… This House is Full of Music and BBC Four’s Young, Gifted and Classical, as well as a documentary ‘Playing to Inspire’ with the Antigua and Barbuda Youth Symphony Orchestra, broadcast on ABS. All the children attend or have attended London’s Royal Academy of Music and its Primary and Junior Academies. They were raised in Nottingham, England, by parents Stuart Mason, a business executive and Dr Kadiatu Kanneh, a former university lecturer. Both parents played musical instruments to a high standard but never pursued professional careers. Born in Sierra Leone but moving to Wales as a young girl, Kadiatu lectured in English at the University of Birmingham, while Stuart, both of whose parents were born in Antigua, was born in London and works for a luxury experiential travel company.


The seven Kanneh-Mason siblings are:

Isata Kanneh-Mason, age 24 (piano)

Braimah Kanneh-Mason, 22 (violin)

Sheku Kanneh-Mason, 21 (cello)

Konya Kanneh-Mason, 20 (piano & violin)

Jeneba Kanneh-Mason, 18 (piano & cello)

Aminata Kanneh-Mason, 15 (violin & piano)

Mariatu Kanneh-Mason, 11 (cello & piano)