“Change how they see us.”
Each month we highlight a community program that aligns with the values of SoulVision Magazine. We believe engaging with one’s community is critical to fostering positive change in the world.
For our August issue, we highlight the Chineke! Foundation. The Chineke! Foundation was started by the talented and graceful Chi-chi Nwanoku, OBE. Chineke! was created in 2015 to “provide career opportunities to young Black and minority ethnic (BME) classical musicians in the UK and Europe.” The word “chineke” means wonderful (great creator/God) in Igbo. It is a place for youth of color to succeed and explore their musical ambitions without feeling as though they don’t belong. Chi-chi has recruited from musical institutions, mostly from the UK and Europe, and a few from the USA, Canada and Africa. The orchestra now has 80-plus members from over 30 nationalities.
The Chineke! Foundation is Europe’s first majority BME orchestra. Chineke!’s members have been visible on an international scale. At the age of 16, cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason was the first black teenager to win the BBC Young Musician of the Year award. Sheku eventually caught the ears of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at an event at the Halo Foundation in London. He made such a great impression that they invited him to perform at their royal wedding. A crowning achievement for Chineke! and Sheku alike, the talented cellist is now cemented in history.
At Chineke! everyone is family and is willing to lend a helping hand. Everyone’s voice is heard. At the core of these relationships is a passion for music. Junior musicians work with more senior/professional musicians to evolve their craft and be mentors and teachers to these young artists. Since its inception, Chi-chi has seen the impact of her foundation. The crowds at their concerts are more diverse and made up of people who have been indoctrinated to feel classical music is for them. Now, they’ve become fans of the classical music genre as a whole. Inclusivity is a hot topic today. The Chineke! Foundation does not emphasize “inclusivity and diversity” for good PR. Chineke! practices what they preach.
To find out how you can give your support to the Chineke! Foundation, visit their website chineke.org and follow them on Instagram @chinekeorchestra or Facebook @chinekefoundation and Twitter @Chineke4Change.