The Chineke! Chamber Ensemble, Europe’s first majority Black & Ethnic Minority orchestra, will be performing a programme of quintets by Coleridge-Taylor and Schubert, as they display the astonishing maturity and virtuosity of the young composers.
Having performed in Birmingham before their founder and double bass player Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE spoke about their forthcoming visit.
She said: “Birmingham was among the first places outside London to embrace what Chineke! is trying to achieve and to invite us to play in the city. With our mission of ‘championing change and celebrating diversity in classical music’ we feel particularly drawn to Birmingham, the population of which is on the verge of becoming majority non-white, and we are thrilled to be performing in this prestigious series of concerts at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.”
One of the pieces they’re playing is by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a late 19th/early 20th century mixed-race composer who lived in London and achieved considerable success.
Premiered in 1893, Coleridge-Taylor’s charismatic four-movement quintet was written at the age of eighteen. The influence of his favourite composer, Dvorak, as well as Schubert, is evident in the inventive, melodic lines and rich tone colour of this Post-Romantic piece, demonstrating a remarkable self-assurance for one so young.
This is complimented by Schubert’s innovative Trout Quintet composed in 1819 when he was just 22 years’ old. The fourth movement features variations on his earlier Lied, Die Forelle and is scored for piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass rather than the more usual piano and string quartet configuration.
Founded in 2015, Chineke!’s mission is to champion change and celebrate diversity in classical music.
Chi-chi says: “My aim is to create a space where BME 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”.
The ensemble made its debut in 2017 in Manchester followed by concerts at Wigmore Hall, Cheltenham and Ryedale festivals in 2018. It has since performed at the Tonbridge Music Club, Wimbledon International Festival, Cambridge Music Festival, St George’s Bristol, The Africa Center in New York, The Stables in Wavendon and Petworth Festival.
They are giving an hour-long lunchtime concert at The Bradshaw Hall (Royal Birmingham Conservatoire) on Tuesday, October 8.