Today, we can officially and confidently say that Europe has witnessed it’s first black and minority ethnic (BME) orchestra, “Chineke!“.
Founder of the Orchestra, Chi-chi Nwanoku, 61 years old, is born to an Irish mother and a Nigerian father. Chi-Chi in an interview with Ivan Hewett, spoke about the challenges of bringing together the team from scratch.
According to Chi-chi Nwanoku; It began four years ago with a conversation with Ed Vaizey, who was Minister of Culture in David Cameron’s government. “He said to me, ‘Why is it only you we ever see on stage in orchestral concerts?’ and at first I didn’t know what he meant,” says Nwanoku. “Then I realised he meant musicians of colour. I had never really thought of myself in that way. I spend my whole life surrounded by white people in orchestras, I defined myself by what I did, not the colour of my skin. But of course he’s right. How often do you see a black person in an orchestra? Almost never.”
And so Chineke! (the name comes from a word in Nwanoku’s ancestral Igbo language meaning “wonderful guardian spirit which creates good things”) was born. Only one thing was missing: the players.
Read complete exerts on Telegraph.