‘I want to change perceptions about classical music’

ISB member, Chi-chi Nwanoku has created the non-profit organization Chineke! Foundation to provide career opportunities for young black and minority ethnic classical musicians in the UK and Europe through education, performances and competitions. The Chineke! Foundation champions change and celebrates diversity in classical music, and aims to be a catalyst for change in the industry.

In a recent interview with the Daily Trust, she said, “I wish to change perceptions of who can and who can’t play classical music, and in turn bring about systematic change. It is absurd to live in a 21st century multi-cultural society in which certain cultural aspects are deemed to be only achievable, understood, and/or appreciated by a small segment of the community. It is an understatement to say that following the removal of music programmes from all the state (free) schools (that form most of the student population) across the UK over 30 years ago, we have lost two generations of potential musicians from the lower income sector. And not just musicians! Countless recent surveys have proved the multitude of benefits to be had from the learning of classical music and an instrument; even to the most elementary level. These benefits include several transferable skills (listening, discipline, tolerance, compassion, to name a few) that serve people throughout their lives and in whatever their chosen profession is. I know that the status quo needs a wake-up call and Chineke! will go a long way towards levelling the playing field in the world of classical music.”

Watch the Chineke! Orchestra’s debut concert, recorded live at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.