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Chineke! Founder, Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE & members of Chineke! Orchestra with Decca Records Co-Presidents Laura Monks & Tom Lewis. (additional names below) (C)Carsten Windhorst




28 APRIL 2022 (TORONTO, ON)Decca Records/Universal Music Canada, the country's leading music company, is thrilled to announce a new partnership with Chineke! Orchestra, Europe’s first professional majority Black and ethnically diverse orchestra. The trailblazing ensemble’s music will be released on the newly-launched label, Chineke! Records. This news comes on the day of Chineke! Orchestra’s return to London’s Southbank Centre for a special performance as recently-appointed Resident Orchestra.


Executive Producer of Chineke! Records is Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, the Founder, Artistic and Executive Director of the Chineke! Foundation, which supports, inspires and encourages Black and ethnically diverse classical musicians working in the UK and Europe, by providing a platform on which to excel.


Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE says, “We are thrilled to begin this partnership with Decca. Chineke!s mission of championing change and celebrating diversity in classical music shines throughout the extraordinary range of repertoire we have discovered and brought to life; music that has been either hidden or unheard for too long. We exist to break down barriers and unleash classical music’s full potential. Decca shares our mission of inclusion and with their worldwide reach will ensure this music is heard in every corner of the globe.”


Tom Lewis and Laura Monks, Co-Presidents of Decca Label Group, say, “We are delighted to welcome Chi-chi and the fabulous Chineke! Orchestra to the Decca label family. Chi-chis vision, energy and ambition are extraordinary. She is a trailblazer with an important mission and, together with Chineke!, she has recorded compositions by some of the worlds most important yet under-represented classical composers. We are committed to spreading the incredible music, talent and message of Chineke! around the world.”


The first album on Chineke! Records will be of music by English composer, conductor and political activist Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Released in August, it commemorates the 110th anniversary of the composer’s death (1st September 1912) and includes his famous Violin Concerto in G minor, here recorded with rising star Elena Urioste, and his Ballade in A minor. It also features a world premiere recording of a work by his daughter, Avril Coleridge-Taylor.


Seven years of critically-acclaimed performances at major European concert halls and festivals, and four previous celebrated albums, have established Chineke! Orchestra as one of the most exciting new forces in British classical music today. The orchestra won the Royal Philharmonic Society inaugural Gamechanger Award in 2019.


Touring with Chineke! Orchestra this summer is Decca’s Sheku Kanneh-Mason, an alumnus of both the Chineke! Orchestra and Chineke! Junior Orchestra. Sheku made his Southbank soloist debut with Chineke! in 2016 as well as his BBC Proms solo debut with Chineke! in 2017. Decca violinist Randall Goosby, who released his debut album on Decca Classics last year, has also performed with the Chineke! Chamber Ensemble, as have countless other exceptional soloists.


Chineke! will perform live with pioneering Decca composer Max Richter in June this year. Having previously worked together on his 2018 score ‘Waltz with Bashir’, the orchestra and Richter collaborate on his ‘Recomposed’ work in an exclusive UK summer show, Live at Chelsea. Richter describes Chineke! as “a beacon, lighting the way within classical music for how an ensemble can reflect the reality of the world were living in”.


Tonight, Chineke! Orchestra take to the stage of the Royal Festival Hall for their ‘Symphonic Celebration’ concert (with music by Tchaikovsky and Duke Ellington’s ‘Nutcracker Suite’). And there is much to celebrate, as the extraordinary ground-breaking work of Chineke! Orchestra continues to be a unique force for good in contemporary classical performance.


Names of Chineke! Orchestra members L-R in above image: Natalia Senior-Brown (Viola), Benjamin Garalnick (French Horn), Aaron Akugbo (Trumpet), Thea Sayer (Double bass).


About Chineke!

The Chineke! Orchestra is the flagship ensemble of the Chineke! Foundation, also established by Nwanoku in 2015, with the mission to provide outstanding career opportunities to established and up-and-coming Black, Asian and ethnically diverse classical musicians in the UK and Europe. Chineke!’s motto is ‘Championing change and celebrating diversity in classical music’. The Chineke! Orchestra works closely with its sister ensemble the Chineke! Junior Orchestra, which seeks to increase the representation of Black, Asian and ethnically diverse candidates studying music in higher education. This process is already underway with several of the junior musicians having won national competitions, gained places at top music schools or been admitted to study and elite third level institutions.


About Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE

Founder, Artistic and Executive Director of the Chineke! Foundation Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE was awarded the OBE for Services to Music in 2017 and the MBE in the 2001 Queen’s Birthday honours.

She was a founder-member of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and held the position of Principal double bass there for 30 years. She is Professor of Double Bass Historical Studies at the Royal Academy of Music with an esteemed discography of chamber and double bass concerto recordings to her name. As a broadcaster, Chi-chi has presented regularly for BBC radio 3, Classic FM  and guest presented for the BBC Proms. She was one of the 100 – Happy List in the Independent on Sunday 2011. In 2016 she was appointed as an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Laban Conservatoire in recognition of her ‘pioneering contribution to music, in particular the inspiration she provides, the commitment she has shown, and the contribution she has made to addressing inequalities within classical music in the UK, most recently through the Chineke! Foundation’.

Amongst her numerous accolades, Chi-chi was named in the Top 10 of the BBC Woman’s Hour, Women in Music Power List 2018. She was also voted to the Powerlist of Britain’s 100 Most Influential Black People in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021. Also in 2021, Chi-chi was featured in the book Superheroes published by grime and hip-hop artist, Stormzy.