Last night we were delighted to be joined by acclaimed musician Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE.
A British double bass player and professor of Historical Double Bass Studies at the Royal Academy of Music, Nwanoku is the founder of the Chineke! Orchestra, Europe’s first classical orchestra made up of a majority of black and minority ethnic musicians. She was also a founder member and principal bassist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, a position she held for 30 years.
Fresh from the success of her Chineke! Junior Orchestra reaching the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent last year, Nwanoku was interviewed by two Benenden musicians on a range of topics before a virtual audience of pupils, staff, parents and Seniors.
In a mix of their own questions and those posted by the audience in the live chat, the Sixth Formers, Tiffany Ayankogbe and Pandora Mann, discussed with Nwanoku her career, how she only fell into music after injury stalled her sprinting career, her inspirations and her achievements in encouraging more BAME musicians into orchestras, and her ambitions for further improvement in BAME representation in the industry.
Talking about the impact of Chineke!, she said: “What Chineke! has done is shine such a light into dark spaces. Other orchestras are now taking up music they didn’t even give a second thought to, music that they didn’t know existed.”
Afterwards, Nwanoku said it had been an “absolute joy and pleasure” to speak to Benenden. Describing Tiffany – who is a member of the Chineke! Junior Orchestra – and Pandora as a “dynamic duo”, she praised their interviewing skills, saying: “You brought humour and joy into your questions and your delivery – absolutely brilliant.”