All-minority Chineke! Orchestra makes London debut

Posted on: September 18, 2015

“Chineke is an Igbo word meaning ‘the spirit of creation,’ and as it comes from one of Chi-chi Nwanoku’s ancestral languages, she’s taken it for the name of the orchestra she’s just founded,” writes Michael Church in Thursday’s (9/17) Independent (U.K.) The Chineke! Orchestra, “made up entirely of BME—black and minority ethnic—professional musicians,” had its debut at London’s Queen Elisabeth Hall on September 13. Nwanoku, a London-based double bassist with Nigerian/Irish roots, “was the only black child at her primary school, and later the only black student at the Royal Academy…. When the Kinshasa Orchestra performed at the Southbank Centre last year, ‘I noticed people looking incredulously at this black orchestra,’ she recalls, ‘and it was that look of incredulity which spurred me into action.’ It was indeed a pleasurable shock to see her new orchestra filling the stage—predominantly young, hailing from all over the globe … under the direction of Wayne Marshall…. As Nwanoku points out, the bottom line in all this is education…. Music education in many state schools is now in the doldrums. Looking at the audience for the Last Prom the night before, I realized that it was 99 per cent white.”

Posted September 18, 2015

Pictured: Wayne Marshall leads the Chineke! Orchestra on September 13 at London’s Queen Elisabeth Hall. Photo by Zen Grisdale