Chineke!, Europe's first majority black and ethnically diverse orchestra, will next month embark on its first North American tour, which includes performances in six cities: Ottawa, Toronto, New York City, Boston, Worcester and Ann Arbor.


The tour, which takes place from 16-25 March, was originally scheduled for 2020, but was cancelled due to the pandemic. 'Chineke! is thrilled to be able to finally make its North American debut!' said double-bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku CBE, the orchestra’s founder and artistic director. 'We’ve been looking forward to this tour for years, and it will be a privilege for us to perform this repertoire for audiences in both Canada and the States. We’re proud of what we’ve created and built with this ensemble and can’t wait to share it beyond Europe!'

Joining the ensemble on this tour are three soloists: pianist and composer Stewart Goodyear in Ottawa and Toronto—where he currently serves as inaugural Artist in Residence at The Royal Conservatory of Music—and Boston; Principal Clarinet of the New York Philharmonic Anthony McGill in New York; and violinist Elena Urioste in Worcester and Ann Arbor.

Repertoire for the tour encompasses a range of eras and styles, from familiar Classical and Romantic era pieces with Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and Dvořák’s 'New World' Symphony, to less well-known Black composers from the late-Romantic period such as British-Sierra Leonian composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and American composer Florence B. Price. Contemporary young Black composers include Stewart Goodyear and the GRAMMY®-nominated composer Carlos Simon.

Chineke! was formed in 2015 by Nwanoku with the dual purpose of broadening performance opportunities at a high artistic level for Black and ethnically diverse classical musicians who are underrepresented in top-tier orchestras, as well as to perform repertoire by composers past and present who have been similarly overlooked. These range from the 16th-century Vicente Lusitano, through to 19th/20th-century Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and include many new works by living Black composers.

According to the conductor, Sir Simon Rattle, 'Chineke! is not only an exciting idea but a profoundly necessary one. The kind of idea which is so obvious that you wonder why it is not already in place.'

Tickets to all tour concerts are currently on sale.


Photo: Eric Richmond and Joe Swift


Hannah Nepilova is a regular contributor to BBC Music Magazine. She has also written for The Financial Times, The Times, The Strad, Gramophone, Opera Now, Opera, the BBC Proms and the Philharmonia, and runs The Cusp, an online magazine exploring the boundaries between art forms. Born to Czech parents, she has a strong interest in Czech music and culture.