Decca Records has announced a new partnership with Chineke! Orchestra, Europe’s first professional majority Black and ethnically diverse orchestra. The ensemble’s music will be released on their newly-launched label Chineke! Records. The first album on the label, released in August, will feature music by celebrated English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Tonight (28 April 2022) Chineke! Orchestra return to London’s Southbank Centre for a special performance, including music by Tchaikovsky and Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite, as recently-appointed Resident Orchestra.
Championing change and celebrating diversity in classical music
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, is the Executive Producer of Chineke! Records. She said, “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, added, “We are delighted to welcome Chi-chi and the fabulous Chineke! Orchestra to the Decca label family. Chi-chi’s 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 world’s most important yet under-represented classical composers. We are committed to spreading the incredible music, talent and message of Chineke! around the world.”
First Chineke! Records album features music by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
The first album on Chineke! Records, featuring music by English composer, conductor and political activist Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, released in August, will commemorate the 110th anniversary of the composer’s death (1st September 1912). The recording features his famous Violin Concerto in G minor and a world premiere recording of a work by his daughter, Avril Coleridge-Taylor.
The Chineke! Orchestra, Europe’s first majority Black and ethnically diverse orchestra, performs a mixture of standard orchestral repertoire along with the works of Black and ethnically diverse composers both past and present. Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE explained, “Chineke! exists to try and redress the balance of who plays and does not play in classical music.” The orchestra won the Royal Philharmonic Society inaugural Gamechanger Award in 2019.
Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, an alumnus of both the Chineke! Orchestra and Chineke! Junior Orchestra, will tour with the Orchestra this summer.
Chineke! Orchestra collaborated with composer Max Richter on his new album, The New Four Seasons, released on 10 June 2022, and previously performed on his 2018 score for Waltz With Bashir. Max Richter and Chineke! will perform the composer’s Recomposed score on Thursday 16 June in an exclusive UK summer show Live at Chelsea.
Chineke! Orchestra will perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, ‘Choral’, and George Walkers Lilacs at the BBC Proms on Friday 2 September which will be broadcast on BBC Four on Sunday 4 September 2022.