U.K.’s Chineke! orchestra, changing perceptions of minority classical musicians

Posted on: August 16, 2017

“Almost two years ago, on September 13, 2015, something happened at London’s Royal Festival Hall that was both ordinary and extraordinary,” writes Ivan Hewett in Wednesday’s (8/16) Daily Telegraph (London). “An orchestra dressed in sober black filed on stage, followed by the conductor, and gave a spirited and subtle performance…. That’s the ordinary part. The extraordinary part was that not a single face on the platform was white. This was the debut of Europe’s first black and minority ethnic (BME) orchestra, Chineke! … Now the orchestra is well on the way to being an established part of the musical scene…. [Says] founder Chi-chi Nwanoku, 61, ‘It’s all about redressing a balance, and changing perceptions.’ … To build her orchestra, Nwanoku had to call on players overseas, including Tai Murray, a violinist, and Wayne Marshall, an organist. She has also created the Chineke! Junior orchestra for players aged 11 to 18… Charlotte Barbour Condini, an 18-year-old violinist in Chineke! who is about to study at the Royal Academy of Music, says: ‘Gifted black kids … have to be exposed to classical music and if schools aren’t doing it, and they don’t hear it at home, that’s not going to happen.’ ”

Posted August 16, 2017

Pictured: The Chineke! orchestra in performance