Chineke! Orchestra

Chineke! Orchestra

Chineke! was founded in 2015 by the double bass player, Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, to provide career opportunities for young Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) classical musicians in the UK and Europe. Chineke!’s mission is: ‘Championing change and celebrating diversity in classical music’.

The Chineke! Orchestra works closely with its sister ensemble, the Chineke! Junior Orchestra, a youth orchestra of BME players aged between 11 and 18, with senior players acting as mentors, teachers and role models to the young musicians. In 2017, the Chineke! Orchestra made its BBC Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall and performed at many other leading festivals throughout England, all to great critical acclaim.

Image Credit: 

Williams, Roderick


Roderick Williams is active in the opera house, on the concert platform and in recital, encompassing a repertoire from the baroque to world premieres.

He has enjoyed close associations with Opera North and Scottish Opera, and has also worked for English National Opera and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. As at home in contemporary music as in the standard repertoire, he has taken roles in the world premieres of Sally Beamish's Monster (for Scottish Opera), David Sawer's From Morning to Midnight and Martin Butler's A Better Place (for English National Opera) and Alexander Knaifel's Alice in Wonderland and Michel van der Aa's After Life (for Netherlands Opera). Further contemporary roles include Jaufre Rudel in Saariaho's L'amour de loin (ENO), Eddie in Mark-Anthony Turnage's Greek (BBC) and roles in Tippett's The Knot Garden (Barbican) and Birtwistle's The Second Mrs Kong (Royal Festival Hall).

He has taken major roles in conductor Richard Hickox's semi-staged performances of opera, including Britten's Gloriana (Aldeburgh, 2003), Walton's Troilus and Cressida and most of the Vaughan Williams operas.  Other concert performances include Henze, Strauss, Stravinsky and Wagner (Donner in Das Rheingold for ENO).

He is an accomplished recital artist who can be heard at Wigmore Hall, at many festivals, and on Radio 3, where he has appeared on Iain Burnside's 'Voices' programme.  His numerous recordings include Vaughan Williams, Berkeley and Britten operas for Chandos, and an extensive repertoire of English song with pianist Iain Burnside for Naxos. Roderick Williams is also a composer and has had works premiered at the Wigmore and Barbican Halls, the Purcell Room and live on national radio.

Murray, Tai


Appreciated for her elegance and effortless ability, Murray creates a special bond with listeners through her mature phrasing and subtle sweetness. Her programming reveals musical intelligence.  Her sound, sophisticated bowing and choice of vibrato remind us of her musical background and influences, principally, Yuval Yaron (a student of Gingold & Heifetz) and Franco Gulli. Winner of an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2004, Tai Murray was named a BBC New Generation Artist (2008 through 2010).

She has performed as guest soloist on the stages of such halls as the Barbican, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens, and Shanghai’s Concert Hall. Performing with such ensembles as the Atlanta Symphony, BBC Scottish Symphony, and Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar. Now a resident of Berlin, Tai Murray’s appearances close to home include Berlin’s Konzerthaus and Kammermusiksaal at the Philharmonie, projects with the Philharmonic Staatsorchester of Mainz and Düsseldorfer Symphoniker, and tours with the Brandenburger Symphoniker and Niederrheinische Sinfoniker.

Tai Murray plays a violin by Tomaso Balestrieri fecit Mantua ca. 1765, on generous loan from a private collection.

Image Credit: 
Gaby Merz

Nwanoku, Chi-chi

double bass

An ex-sprinter and half the size of her double bass, Chi-chi Nwanoku has gained a reputation as one of the finest exponents of her instrument today.

The eldest of five children from Nigerian and Irish parents, Chi-chi was seven when she discovered the piano at a neighbour’s. She returned to their house daily to play until the neighbours got so fed up they wheeled the piano up the road and gave it to her! Meanwhile, she was spotted by an athletics coach and trained as a 100-metre sprinter, eventually competing at National level. This career ended abruptly due to a knee injury aged 18, which is when (and why) she took up the double bass and actively pursued a career in music. She studied at the Royal Academy of Music and with Franco Petracchi in Rome, and soon found herself in demand internationally.

Chi-chi is the 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 Chineke! Foundation celebrates diversity in the classical music industry through its two orchestras, the Chineke! Orchestra and Chineke! Junior Orchestra, as well as its educational and Community engagement work. Ultimately, the Chineke! Foundation aims to give classical BME musicians a platform on which to excel, and by such methods increase the representation of BME musicians in British and European orchestras.

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Kanneh-Mason, Isata


Isata Kanneh-Mason’s debut album, Romance, drew popular and critical acclaim, entering the UK classical charts at No. 1 when it was released in July 2019 and leading Gramophone magazine to extol the recording as “one of the most charming and engaging debuts” and Classic FM to praise Isata as “a player of considerable talent”. Isata recorded the all-Clara Schumann disc for Decca Classics as an homage to the composer and pianist in the year of what would have been her 200th birthday, selecting works from across her compositional output including solo piano pieces, a sonata, chamber music with violinist Elena Urioste, transcriptions of two of her husband Robert’s songs, and the piano concerto, which she recorded with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Holly Mathieson.

Isata reached her category final in the 2014 BBC Young Musician competition, winning the Walter Todds Bursary for the most promising musician. She has since performed several times on television and radio, including on BBC Radio 3 In Tune, the South Bank Sky Arts Awards, The Andrew Marr Show, the Radio 3 RPS Awards, BBC2 Proms Extra, Radio 4 Front Row and Woman's Hour, Al Jazeera TV, BBC World Service, Channel 4, The One Show, ITV Born To Shine, BBC2 Classroom Heroes, and a feature for CBS Sunday Morning. Isata made her debut as a television presenter for the coverage of the 2019 BBC Proms.

She previously completed her undergraduate degree at the Academy as an Elton John scholar, and performed with Sir Elton in 2013 in Los Angeles. Isata is also grateful for support from the Nottingham Soroptimist Trust, Mr and Mrs John Bryden, Frank White, and Awards for Young Musicians.

Image Credit: 
Robin Clewley

Parnther, Anthony


American conductor, Anthony Parnther, is the son of immigrants. His father emigrated to the United States from Kingston, Jamaica at the height of the Korean War and served in the US Navy. His mother came to America from the remote Pacific microstate of Samoa. Anthony was born in Norfolk, Virginia, and the family eventually relocated to Washington D.C. and New York City before settling in central Virginia where Anthony became active in the instrumental music program. While in high school, Anthony learned the bassoon and the tuba and developed secondary interests in acting, singing, forensics, and creative writing before deciding to enter university fully committed to music.

Anthony studied orchestral conducting at Northwestern University with Victor Yampolsky and at Yale University with Lawrence Leighton Smith. He also received guidance and mentorship from mentorships with Cliff Colnot, W. Francis McBeth, and Frank Battisti. He resides in Los Angeles.

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Edusei, Kevin John

Kevin John

Kevin John Edusei is praised repeatedly for the drama and tension that he brings to his music-making, for his clear sense of architecture and attention to detail. A suave and elegant figure on the podium, he has conducted widely across Europe, in particular in Germany and the Netherlands, dividing his time equally between the concert hall and opera house. He conducts a broad range of repertoire from baroque to contemporary, with a particular interest in German music from the early romantic period and early 20th century. He is Chief Conductor of the Munich Symphony Orchestra.

Image Credit: 
Marco Borggreve

Marshall, Wayne


Wayne’s relationship with music began at an early age. By the age of three, he had already familiarised himself with the piano, and only began to take formal lessons a few years later. Wayne was a student at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester from 1971 to 1979. He won a Foundation scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London, which was combined with the post of Organ Scholar at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and was a Post Graduate student at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna from 1983-84.

Wayne’s musical forays led him to experiment in multiple genres, including church music and jazz, but quickly found his professional voice as an organ/piano recitalist. His first recorded work goes as far back as 1990, recorded at the organ of Coventry Cathedral, for EMI.This was also the time in which Wayne began to find his footing as a conductor, a path that would see him working with some of the world’s most accomplished orchestras. Wayne feels at home on the podium directing and conducting as well as being a soloist. He is a man with two gifts and one legacy.


Image Credit: 
Darrin Zammit
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Chineke! Orchestra & Chorus
Roderick Williams baritone
Tai Murray violin
Chi-chi Nwanoku double bass
Isata Kanneh-Mason piano
Anthony Parnther conductor
Kevin John Edusei conductor
Wayne Marshall conductor


'When I founded Chineke! in 2015, one of the most important aims, as well as creating a top-class orchestra comprising a majority of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) musicians, was to champion the music of BME composers, both living and from the past. Over these last three years we have given many performances of new commissions and existing works by some of the UK’s leading BME composers and I am delighted that six of these works are now captured in perpetuity on this NMC Recordings album. Chineke! has derived enormous pleasure in performing and recording these works, which represent such a variety of instrumentation and mood, and I hope that you, the listener, will gain as much enjoyment from hearing them.'
- Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, FRAM, HonFTL

Errollyn Wallen pays homage to Bach and Corelli in Concerto Grosso with its combination of dance elements and the buoyant rhythms of Baroque and popular music. James Wilson’s evocative The Green Fuse is inspired by Dylan Thomas’s poem The force that through the green fuse drives the flower and Julian Joseph’s energetic Carry That Sound combines elements of jazz and blues harmonies.

Daniel Kidane’s Dream Song was written for the reopening of Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2018 and sets words from Martin Luther King’s powerful ‘I have a dream’ speech, sung by soloist Roderick Williams. Hannah Kendall’s The Spark Catchers draws on the dynamic poem by Lemn Sissay, commissioned for London’s 2012 Olympics.

Philip Herbert’s poignant Elegy is a tribute to Stephen Lawrence who was murdered in a racist attack in London in 1999. Herbert says ‘There is a need to place a higher value on the strength that comes from diverse peoples living together in Britain’.



'Lighting a spark for composers of colour … the zest of Wallen’s solo musicians — the Chineke! founder Chi-chi Nwanoku and Isata Kanneh-Mason among them — helps to put a smile on the listener’s face' The Times

‘The best music of all comes with the authoritative control of structure and timbre in Hannah Kendall’s The Spark Catchers’ The Times

'Errollyn Wallen’s Concerto Grosso, compact and energetic, mixes stylistic patterns of the baroque with punchy jazz rhythms ... James Wilson’s The Green Fuse, buoyant and intense, is in pastoral mood … Hannah Kendall’s vibrant and compelling The Spark Catchers, inspired by Lemn Sissay’s poem, gives the disc its title.' The Guardian

'This disc focuses on the here-and-now … eclectic and heartfelt' Financial Times

'Daniel Kidane's Dream Song is a powerful work that deserves to be widely performed ... Spark Catchers is a true gem' Black Grooves

'Six fine pieces … Wallen's Concerto Grosso is a charming four movements and Julian Joseph's Carry That Sound is outright jazzy … Hannah Kendall's The Spark Catchers is a vivid recreation of Lemn Sissay's poem about the Bow matchgirls' strike.' Sunday Times

'vibrant, vivid sound' BBC Radio Scotland

'Hannah Kendall’s sound whirlpool takes its inspiration from Lemn Sissay’s poem of the same name … Chineke! – led here by German conductor Kevin John Edusei – exudes energetic expertise' BBC Music Magazine ★★★★★

'Julian Joseph's lively and at times Gershwinesque Carry that Sound, would make an ideal Proms encore ... the sound and performances are immaculate and brilliant' Gramophone

'Errollyn Wallen's Concerto Grosso shows what the concerto grosso can offer a 21st century orchestra: energetic virtuosity, lyrical phrases, and ever constant interaction between soloists and ensemble.' Harry T. Burleigh Society




With special thanks to RVW Trust for their support of this album.

The Chineke! Orchestra was supported in this project by a National Lottery Project Grant from Arts Council England.

The Chineke! Orchestra is grateful to PRS Foundation for their support of the commission, rehearsals, performance and recording of Julian Joseph's Carry That Sound.



Incorporating a BBC Recording

Radio 3


The Green Fuse, Concerto Grosso and Elegy were recorded at All Saints Church, East Finchley, London on 10-12 April 2018.
Carry That Sound was recorded at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London on 21 July 2018.

DAVID LEFEBER Recording Producer & Engineer

The Spark Catchers was recorded by the BBC at the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, London on 30 August 2017.
RICHARD ANDREWS Recording Engineer
DAVID GALLAGHER Recording Producer

Dream Song was recorded by the BBC at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London on 9 April 2018.
ROBERT WINTER Recording Engineer
DOMINIC WELLS Recording Producer


Peters Edition
Catalogue number:
NMC D250
Release Date:
17 January 2020