2015 witnessed the emergence of the first orchestra consisting of blacks and other minority groups in Europe, Chineke.
The group is set to perform again this year.
The group premiered at the Southbank Centre in London, where their concert included renditions of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s ‘Ballade’, Philip Herbert’s ‘Elegy’ (written memory of Stephen Lawrence) and Beethoven’s seventh symphony.
Chineke which means ‘the spirit of creation’ in Ibo, a Nigerian language was set up and directed by Chi-chi Nwanoku to fill a gap that was created by the lack of diversity in European classical music.
“It is about raising awareness, trying to level the playing field, altering the status quo a little bit and changing perceptions,” She said to the Independent.
She also added that the cost of joining an Orchestra sidelines a lot of low-income families and she hopes to change that.
“The cost of buying or hiring and learning an instrument, of attending specialist Saturday music schools, of studying at a conservatoire excludes many lower-income families, and of course, the perception that classical music is just for white, middle-class people is a powerful inhibitor for many.”
Chi-chi Nwanoku, born to an Irish mother and Nigerian father entered into the music world at the age of seven when she came across a piano in her neighbour’s house.
She studied at the Royal Academy of Music, London, with the Italian double bass soloist and teacher, Franco Petracchi. She has had a successful classical music career for 30 years; she was awarded a member of the Order of the British Empire for her services to music.
She is a double bassist and also works as an educator, teaching Double Bass Historical studies at the Royal academic of music, and broadcaster.
Chineke will be performing this year at the Africa Utopia festival at the Southbank Centre again in September.
Watch a video of a performance by the group below: