Europe’s first professional orchestra made up entirely of musicians of colour, is set to make their debut performance in September, in London.
The 60-piece Chineke! Orchestra, founded by British double bassist Chichi Nwanoku, has been established with the objective of making a conscious effort to redress the racial balance in classical music.
“I was brought up to be who I am, and being mixed race is not part of my agenda … but it is clear to me that there are many reasons why people like me, people of colour, are so very under-represented in the arts …. and I know for a fact it’s not due to lack of talent,’ Ms Nwanoku has said.
The ensemble will be lead by Berlin-based African American Concertmaster, Tai Murray – and conducted by British conductor Wayne Marshall.
Although players were not required to audition, each member was invited to join the ensemble based on experience, Youtube recordings and professional recommendations.
In addition to a series of further concerts, Ms Nwanoku has also outlined her five-year vision for the Foundation to also include the establishment of a junior orchestra and a performance academy.
The ensemble’s name (pronounced CHI-neh-keh) comes from the Igbo tribe in Nigeria – meaning ‘spirit of creation’, she has said.
The Chineke! Orchestra’s debut performance will be held at London’s Southbank Centre on Sunday 13th September – as part of the ‘Africa Utopia Festival’.
The programme will include: Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, Brahms ‘Variations on a theme by Haydn’, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s ‘Ballade for Orchestra’ and Philip Herbert’s ‘Elegy’.