Bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku founded the Chineke! Foundation in 2015 and it has gone from strength to strength, providing a much-needed platform for young classical musicians from black or minority ethnic backgrounds, both in the UK and Europe. The Chineke! orchestra bring a programme of under appreciated works, staple classics and new compositions to The Bridgewater Hall this May.
This afternoon concert is conducted by Wayne Marshall and begins with a lyrical work from English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Described by Elgar as ‘far and away the cleverest fellow amongst the young men’, Coleridge-Taylor was a student of composition at the Royal College of Music before entering a career of composing, conducting and teaching, in which he produced exceptional work despite the prejudice he faced.
Coleridge-Taylor’s Ballade in A minor is followed by an animated new work; Callaloo – Caribbean suite for piano and orchestra, by the American pianist Stewart Goodyear. Performed by the composer himself, this piece combines delicate orchestral textures with the Caribbean’s rich musical heritage.
They celebrate diversity and show by example that classical music is for everyone.
Finally, to complete the programme is Dvorák’s reflection on the political struggles of the late 19th Century Czech Republic. His 7th Symphony in D minor is seen as one of the most ambitious structures attempted by the composer and was written during a time where he was perceived to be at the peak of his compositional output. With its brooding opening and fiery scherzo, the composer’s unstable sense of national identity is captured between lyrical melodies.
Chineke! is one of the most exciting orchestras in the UK at the moment and a much needed ensemble in an area of music which can often seem exclusive and elitist. They celebrate diversity and show by example that classical music is for everyone.