First a proactive foundation, then an orchestra, and now a movement, Chineke!, whose name translates as spirit of creation, has captivated the popular imagination, as evidenced by the wild response to every one of their four visits to the BBC Proms in recent years.
Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, one of the UK’s finest exponents of the double bass, played in the cream of London’s chamber and period instrument orchestras for over 30 years. Of Nigerian-Irish heritage, her witnessing, in 2014, the revelation of the Kinshasa orchestra from the Congo playing to a typical traditional classical music audience triggered the birth of this unique platform for majority Black and ethnically diverse classical musicians.
A Chineke! concert guarantees three things: excellence, unadulterated joy and the discovery of great new (or neglected old) music. These two outstanding concerts feature the principal wind, horn and string players from the orchestra in every imaginable permutation, with Nonets and Quintets by Schubert (yes,The Trout), Rheinberger, Martinu and Prokofiev, alongside beautiful mini-orchestral pieces by the great British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and African-Americans William Grant Still and Valerie Coleman.
Part of the concerts will be two thrilling new Australian commissions, one from Deborah Cheetham and one from William Barton, who will appear with Chineke! in the World Premieres of his composition.
Coleridge-Taylor’s resurrection is one of many heartwarming effects of Chineke!’s own soaring popularity... The orchestra... set their special electricity in performance flying.
Nwanoku, like her instrument, anchors this remarkable group of musicians with a simple but burning purpose: ”If even one child feels that their colour is getting in the way of their musical ambitions, then I hope to inspire them... and show them that music, of whatever kind, is for all people.” In witnessing Chineke!, in Australia for the first time, you are witnessing history.
Chineke! Chamber Ensembles are offering two different programs of music:
PROGRAM ONE: Wed 16 Mar, 8.30pm Martinů: Nonet No.2, H.374 Prokofiev: Quintet in G minor, Op.39 Valerie Coleman: Red Clay and Mississippi Delta William Barton: World Premiere: The Rising of the Mother Country Composed by: William Barton Published by G. Schirmer Australia Pty Ltd By kind permission of the Wise Music Group Coleridge-Taylor: Nonet in F minor, Op.2
PROGRAM TWO: Thu 17 Mar, 7.30pm
Still: Folk Suite Rheinberger: Nonet in E-flat major, Op.139 Deborah Cheetham: World Premiere Ngarrgooroon Composed by: Deborah Cheetham Schubert: Piano Quintet in A major, D.667 The Trout
Chineke! Foundation Founder, Artistic & Executive Director Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE General Manager Stephen Carpenter Projects Officer Ellie Argente Learning & Participation Manager Ishani O'Connor
Chineke! image Eric Richmond William Barton image Keith Saunders Deborah Cheetham image Wayne Quilliam
Supported by the UK/Australia Season Patrons Board, the British Council and the Australian Government as part of the UK/Australia Season.
Thanks to the British Council, British Council Australia, the Australian High Commission in the United Kingdom and Harrison Parrott for facilitating Chineke!'s participation in the UK-AU cultural exchange program.
Read more about the artists in the Additional Info section below.
About Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE Double bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE is the Founder, Artistic and Executive Director of the Chineke! Foundation. Chi-chi has been instrumental in creating opportunities for talented Black and ethnically diverse musicians through the Chineke! Orchestra and Chineke! Junior Orchestra, commissioning new works and championing historical composers of diverse heritage, and by establishing scholarships with the major UK conservatoires. She also created the ABO/RPS Salomon Prize, which celebrates ‘unsung heroes’ working in the ranks of British orchestras.
Chi-chi is a Professor and Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Laban Conservatoire and Honorary Doctor at Chichester University and the Open University. In 2017, Chi-chi was awarded the OBE for Services to Music, and in 2021 she was named the first Ambassador for Intergenerational Music Making, a charity which aims to bring generations together through innovative music therapy and creative projects. She has featured in the Powerlist of Britain’s 100 Most Influential Black People for three consecutive years, from 2019 to 2021. As a broadcaster for TV and radio, Chi-chi has worked with the BBC, Sky Arts, Scala Radio and Classic FM.
About William Barton William Barton is Australia’s leading didgeridoo player as well as a composer, instrumentalist and vocalist.
William started learning the instrument from his first learnt the uncle, Arthur Peterson, an elder of the Wannyi, Lardil and Kalkadunga people and was working from an early age with traditional dance groups and fusion/rock jazz bands, orchestras, string quartets, and mixed ensembles.
Throughout his diverse career he has forged a path in the classical musical world, from the London and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras to historic events at Westminster Abbey for Commonwealth Day 2019, at Anzac Cove in Gallipoli and for the Beijing Olympics.
His awards include Winner of Best Original Score for a Mainstage Production at the 2018 Sydney Theatre Awards and Winner of Best Classical Album with an ARIA for Birdsong At Dusk in 2012. In 2021 he was the recipient of the prestigious Don Banks Music Award from the Australia Council.
With his prodigious musicality and building on his Kalkadunga heritage, William has vastly expanded the horizons of the didgeridoo.
About Deborah Cheetham AO Deborah Cheetham, Yorta Yorta woman, soprano, composer and educator has been a leader and pioneer in the Australian arts landscape for more than 25 years. In the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Cheetham was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), for “distinguished service to the performing arts as an opera singer, composer and artistic director, to the development of Indigenous artists, and to innovation in performance”.
In 2009, Deborah Cheetham established Short Black Opera as a national not-for-profit opera company devoted to the development of Indigenous singers. The following year she produced the premiere of her first opera Pecan Summer. This landmark work was Australia’s first Indigenous opera and has been a vehicle for the development of a new generation of Indigenous opera singers.
In March 2015 she was inducted onto the Honour Roll of Women in Victoria and in April 2018 received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of South Australia for her pioneering work and achievements in the music.
Ms Cheetham’s Eumeralla, a war requiem for peace, premiered to sold out audiences on-country at the Port Fairy Spring Festival in October 2018 and at Hamer Hall in Melbourne with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra on June 15, 2019.
Deborah Cheetham’s list of commissions for major Australian ensembles continues to grow including works for the Victorian Opera, Sydney Philharmonia Choir, Orchestra Victoria, Melbourne ensemble, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Australian String Quartet, West Australian Symphony Orchestra String Quartet, Rubiks Collective, Plexus Ensemble, the Goldner Quartet and Flinders Quartet.
In 2019 Deborah Cheetham established the One Day in January project designed to develop and nurture Indigenous orchestral musicians. In this same year she received the Sir Bernard Heinze Memorial Award for service to music in Australia, the Merlyn Myer Prize for Composition, was inducted onto the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll and received Life Time Membership at the Melbourne Recital Centre.
Deborah was the 2019 winner of the prestigious Melbourne Prize for Music and was named Limelight Magazine’s Critics Choice Artist of the Year.
In 2020 Deborah Cheetham was the 2020 Composer-in-residence for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and commenced her appointment at the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music, Monash University as Professor of Music practice.
In 2021 Deborah Cheetham began a five year appointed as First Nations Chair of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
Deborah Cheetham was the 2020 recipient of the JC Williamson Life Time Achievement Award which recognises an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the Australian live entertainment and performing arts industry, and helped to shape the future of our industry for the better.