Chi-chi Nwanoku (2 December)

NwanokuAnother of this season’s great communicators, Chi-chi Nwanoku was born in London of Nigerian and Irish descent, and but for a knee injury during her time of training as a 100-metre sprinter, might have continued to pursue a dual career in music and athletics. Not, one suspects, that there would subsequently have been time for sprinting in the light of her musical career to date. As well professor of Historical Double Bass Studies at London’s Royal Academy of Music, she was a founder member and principal bassist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment for 30 years, also at various times holding the same position with the Endymion Ensemble, the London Mozart Players, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, the English Baroque Soloists, the London Classical Players and the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique.

Much of her considerable energies are now taken up with Chineke!, which she founded as Europe’s first classical orchestra made up of a majority of black and minority ethnic musicians, with whom she also regularly performs. She is also a regular broadcaster on television (proms presenter), Radio 3 and Radio 4, presenting in 2015 a series of programmes In Search of the Black Mozart, featuring the lives and careers of black classical composers and performers from the 18th Century. We imagine that her appearance as a castaway on Desert Island Discs in 2018 will have whetted our members’ appetites for what promises to be an insightful and enlivening evening.

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