“In many ways, the Chineke! Orchestra is both simple and difficult to describe,” writes Jacqui Cheng on Tuesday (3/5) at New York classical radio station WQXR. Cheng is WQXR’s new editor-in-chief, music. “Founded in 2015, the group’s rallying cry is that it’s ‘Europe’s first majority black and multi-ethnic orchestra’— as in, almost all the musicians in the (up to) 75-person ensemble are people of color. This extraordinary effort to explicitly provide career opportunities to black and multi-ethnic classical musicians (and build a world-class orchestra in the process) has attracted some major attention, not just in Europe, but internationally. The Chineke! Orchestra has already begun to build bridges to people and communities who otherwise feel like outsiders in the classical world. Members of Chineke! came to the WQXR studio this February to perform and talk with us more about the kind of philosophy that goes into building this group.” Included is a lengthy interview with Chineke! founder and double bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, and bassoonist Linton Stephens. Topics include Chineke’s audition process, the value of access to music education, building new audiences for classical music, and the central importance of diversity.

Posted March 11, 2019

In photo: Chineke! Orchestra founder and double-bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku. Photo by Eric Richmond