Kanneh-Mason family duo play evocative ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ in London’s oldest surviving church

22 December 2023, 15:21

Konya and Braimah Kanneh-Mason at Classic FM's Carols by Candlelight with Viking
Konya and Braimah Kanneh-Mason at Classic FM's Carols by Candlelight with Viking. Picture: Classic FM/Annabel Staff

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

A 900-year-old church was transformed into a candlelit wonderland, for a star-studded Christmas concert featuring the Kanneh-Masons and Aled Jones.

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In the beautiful candlelit setting of a medieval church, a brother and sister from the UK’s most famous musical family played a stunning piano and violin duet arrangement of ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’.

Founded in 1123, St-Bartholomew-the-Great church stands in the city of London.

It was the venue for Classic FM’s Carols by Candlelight with Viking, an exclusive Christmas carol concert held in December, hosted by Aled Jones.

Against the church’s stunning backdrop, Braimah Kanneh-Mason and Konya Kanneh-Mason performed three seasonal duets.

‘In the Bleak Midwinter’, ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ and ‘I Saw Three Ships’ were arranged by violinist Braimah, who gave the much-loved melodies a modern, virtuosic Bridgerton flavour with pop and jazz stylings in the phrasing.

The hour-long carol concert also included performances of much-loved carols from the choir of St-Bartholomew-the-Great, under music director Rupert Gough with harpist Cecily Beer.

Read more: What are the lyrics to ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ – and which version is better?

Braimah and Konya Kanneh-Mason play ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ in medieval church | Classic FM

Ahead of the concert, Braimah told Aled in an interview for Viking: “It’s our first time being in this church. It’s incredibly beautiful and I think it’s going to be a very special atmosphere.

“We spent the last few days arranging three Christmas carols and I think there’s something very special about playing Christmas carols in a church that is 900 years old. I think it’s going to be a wonderful acoustic.”

Braimah and Konya are from Britain’s most famous musical family, The Kanneh-Masons, who have been transforming the landscape of classical music since Sheku performed at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and lit a fire for young people around the world, many of whom became inspired to take up the cello.

Both Braimah and Konya have studied at the Royal Academy of Music, where all seven musically gifted siblings studied except Konya’s younger sister, Jeneba, who is a student at the Royal College of Music.

“By the time I came along,” Konya told Aled, “My elder three siblings were already playing. As siblings you want to do what your siblings are doing, and music just happened to be that thing.”

Hear Carols by Candlelight with Viking this Christmas Eve at 5.30pm on Classic FM, or watch the full concert below.

Watch Classic FM’s Carols by Candlelight with Viking – full concert!