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Star cellist, 19, was to perform in L.A., but then Meghan Markle called

Star cellist, 19, was to perform in L.A., but then Meghan Markle called
Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason (Lars Borges)

You’ve heard of a runaway bride. But what about a runaway cellist?

The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra learned that it will be left at the altar this weekend — the altar being the Alex Theatre in Glendale. For the last concert of its 50th anniversary season, LACO was to perform with 19-year-old British cello virtuoso Sheku Kanneh-Mason as guest soloist, but he was lured away by none other than Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.

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The cellist studies at the Royal Academy of Music, and last summer Prince Harry was impressed watching Kanneh-Mason perform in London. The royal couple requested Kanneh-Mason for their wedding Saturday.

“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!”

LACO was disappointed but understood, executive director Scott Harrison said.

“I was sad for a moment, but I was also thrilled for him,” Harrison said. “It’s such a moment for him and he’s such a wonderful musician. But more importantly, it’s such a great moment for the classical music world. This kind of visibility on a global stage for classical music is great for all of us.”

The sting of rejection, Harrison said, was softened by the news of Kanneh-Mason’s replacement. Joshua Roman will take his place, performing as soloist for the first Shostakovich Cello Concerto.

The program, which will repeat Sunday evening at UCLA’s Royce Hall, also includes Vivaldi’s Concerto Grosso and the world premiere of L.A. composer Derrick Spiva Jr.’s “From Here a Path.”

Kanneh-Mason will now make his U.S. orchestral debut with the Seattle Symphony this fall. LACO is rescheduling with Kanneh-Mason for its 2019-20 season.

“We don’t know what the repertoire will be yet, but he’ll do a residency week with us,” Harrison said. “So in addition to performing onstage, he’ll also visit various community and educational settings to perform and teach and share the music beyond the concert hall. So the impact and reach of his visit will be magnified beyond just a traditional concert.”

So in the end, everything’s still coming up roses.

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