Chineke! to celebrate diversity with Southampton’s young musicians

Sheku Kanneh-Mason and the Chineke! Orchestra. Image by Mark Allen

Sheku Kanneh-Mason and the Chineke! Orchestra. Image by Mark Allen

Chineke! — Europe's first professional majority Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) orchestra, founded by the double bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE — is working with Southampton Music Hub and Turner Sims to give school pupils in Southampton an extraordinary musical experience.

Pupils from Southampton schools will participate in a series of workshops in the lead up to Chineke!’s public performance at Turner Sims, on Thursday 23 November 2017.

To coincide with Black History Month in October, pupils from three Southampton schools will learn a newly commissioned arrangement of Symphony No 2, L’Amant Anonyme by Joseph Boulogne (Le Chevalier de Saint Georges), an extraordinary man who was not only an accomplished 18th century black composer and virtuoso violinist but also a celebrated fencer, athlete, soldier and political activist in Paris and across Europe.

This November, members of Chineke! Orchestra will join pupils in their schools and work together to learn the piece by Boulogne, as well as composing a new piece of music inspired by his life. The project culminates in a large-scale performance for schools on Thursday 23 November, with over 150 young musicians playing alongside Chineke! musicians at Central Hall, Southampton. The performance comes ahead of Chineke!’s concert at Turner Sims the same evening.

The scheme aims to give the students inspiration and confidence during their formative years, with the hope of increasing the numbers of black and minority ethnic students studying music in higher education.

Nia Collins, Interim Hub Manager for Southampton Music Hub says:
"We’re delighted to give pupils from Southampton the experience of not only listening to, but performing alongside, some of the best BME musicians in the world. Southampton is an incredibly diverse place, and in recognition of the contribution BME musicians make to our city, we are delighted to subsidise music lessons for young BME musicians taking part in the project, to support them as they continue making music. Video from the day will go out to schools, alongside pieces of music, meaning that every child in the city will be able to play along with, and celebrate, the contribution of BME composers and musicians to classical music."

Kevin Appleby, Concert Hall Manager at Turner Sims says:
"I’m thrilled that as part of Chineke!’s first visit to Turner Sims, we can bring some of the orchestra’s highly regarded learning and participation work to Southampton schools, providing children with inspiring encounters with world-class musicians. The project builds on the work we have done over a number of years, together with Southampton Music Hub and the national music charity Orchestras Live, in profiling orchestral music across the city. We’re grateful to Arts Council England for their support of Chineke!’s work which has enabled this innovative project to happen."

Ishani O’Connor, Learning and Participation Manager, Chineke! Foundation says:
"It is wonderful for Chineke! to be involved in such an ambitious collaboration with the Music Hub and Turner Sims, and to reach so many children in Southampton. Chineke! Learning and Participation has been working hard this year to support music education across the UK and to encourage young BME musicians to keep playing and practising their instruments. We want to give BME musicians opportunities to meet and listen to Chineke! classical musicians from backgrounds similar to their own, to show them that with hard work and determination, they too can belong on the best stages in the world. These mentorships directly fulfil Chineke!’s aim to champion change and celebrate diversity in classical music."

To book tickets for Chineke!’s performance at Turner Sims on Thursday 23 November at 8pm call the Turner Sims Box Office on 023 8059 5151 or visit


Find out more about Chineke!:, @Chineke4Change (on Twitter) and /chinekefoundation (on Facebook)

Find out more about Chineke!’s Learning and Participation work: