Teenage cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, 19, skipped US debut to play at royal wedding

Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason in an undated handout picture released by Kensington Palace on April 24, 2018.
Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason in an undated handout picture released by Kensington Palace on April 24, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

(THE WASHINGTON POST) - Sheku Kanneh-Mason had big plans for this weekend. The 19-year-old, who was raised in Nottingham, England, was supposed to make his U.S. orchestral debut as the guest soloist for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

Then Meghan Markle called.

"I was bowled over when Ms. Markle called me to ask if I would play during the ceremony, and of course I immediately said yes," Kanneh-Mason said in a statement from Kensington Palace. "What a privilege to be able to play the cello at such a wonderful event. I can't wait!"

Kanneh-Mason studies at the Royal Academy of Music, and it turns out he had a secret fan: Prince Harry saw him perform in London last summer and took note. Then, shortly before the wedding, Markle reached out to see if he'd be available to perform.

That meant cancelling on his Los Angeles plans, and delaying his US orchestral debut until a performance scheduled in Seattle for later this year. Kanneh-Mason seemed okay with that.

He relished in the festivities, posting photos of himself being fitted for a suit, and posing with Bishop Michael Curry, the first African-American to preside over the Episcopal Church, who delivered a sermon during Saturday's wedding.

In 2016, Kanneh-Mason won the BBC's best young musician award, becoming the first black musician to do so.

On Saturday, he played Franz Schubert's Ave Maria, Gabriel Fauré's Après un rêve and Maria Theresia von Paradis' Sicilienne.