• WOMEX 20 Digital Edition
  • 26-29 MAY 2021
Keep Calm and Listen Up

Leading By Example

How Chi-chi Nwanoku and the Chineke! Foundation are setting a new standard for inclusion and diversity in the art music world.

Chineke_by_EricChineke! Orchestra by Eric Richmond Harris


Although the focus of the Black Lives Matter movement lies firmly on the United States, the issues the movement addresses are global in scope. To better understand the situation, Classical:NEXT spoke with Chi-chi Nwanoku, founder, artistic and executive director of the Chineke! Foundation, which supports, inspires and encourages Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) classical musicians working in the UK and Europe.

The following video highlights the many challenges faced by musicians of colour and their continuous uphill battles. Chi-chi offered an emotional and powerful response, with much food for thought, while also addressing the beauty in collective diversity and the impactful work the Chineke! Foundation continues to engage in.

What we prove is the fact that diversity not only works, it's just good for you. It's so possible and I cannot understand why more is not happening.

Chi-chi Nwanoku

About the Chineke! Foundation

The Chineke! Foundation was created in 2015 to provide career opportunities to established and up-and-coming Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) classical musicians in the UK and Europe. Chineke!’s motto is: ‘Championing change and celebrating diversity in classical music’. The organisation aims to be a catalyst for change, realising existing diversity targets within the industry by increasing the representation of BME musicians in British and European orchestras.

The Foundation’s flagship ensemble, the Chineke! Orchestra, comprises exceptional musicians from across the continent brought together multiple times per year. As Europe’s first majority-BME orchestra, the Chineke! Orchestra performs a mixture of standard orchestral repertoire along with the works of BME composers both past and present.