Chineke! was founded in 2015 by the double bass player, Chi-chi Nwanoku CBE, to provide career opportunities for Black and ethnically diverse classical musicians in the UK and Europe. Chineke!’s mission statement reads: "championing change and celebrating diversity in classical music."
The Chineke! Orchestra, the Foundation’s flagship ensemble, works closely with its sister ensemble, the Chineke! Junior Orchestra, a youth orchestra of Black and ethnically diverse players aged between 11 and 22, with senior players acting as mentors, teachers and role models to the young musicians.
In 2017, the Chineke! Orchestra made its BBC Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall in August and performed at many other leading festivals throughout Europe including Lucerne Festival and Edinburgh Festival, all to great critical acclaim. The ensemble is currently a Resident Orchestra at the Southbank Centre. Chineke! has released five CDs to date, which you can hear on Spotify.
The Chineke! Ensemble comprises the principal players of the Chineke! Orchestra. It has performed in Manchester in 2017 and made its debut at Wigmore Hall in 2018 before going on to play at the Cheltenham and Ryedale festivals. It has since performed at the Tonbridge Music Club, Wimbledon International Festival, Cambrige Music Festival, St George's Bristol and Snape Maltings.
Chineke!'s founder, Chi-chi Nwanoku CBE, says: "My aim is to create a space where Black and ethnically diverse musicians can walk on stage and know that they belong, in every sense of the word. If even one BME child feels that their colour is getting in the way of their musical ambitions, then I hope to inspire them, give them a platform, and show them that music, of whatever kind, is for all people."
In the words of Sir Simon Rattle: "Chineke! is not only an exciting idea but a profoundly necessary one. The kind of idea which is so obvious that you wonder why it is not already in place. The kind of idea which could deepen and enrich classical music in the UK for generations. What a thrilling prospect!"