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Chi-chi Nwanoku

Chi-chi Nwanoku, musician and founder of Europe's first professional majority black and minority ethnic orchestra, is interviewed by Kirsty Young.

Chi-chi Nwanoku is a double bass player and founder of Europe's first professional majority black and minority ethnic orchestra, Chineke!.

Chi-chi is the eldest of five children, born to a Nigerian father and an Irish mother. Early on, she discovered two competing passions: playing the piano and 100 metre sprinting. She was aiming to qualify for the 1976 Olympics when she suffered a knee injury which cut short her life as an athlete. Her music teacher then suggested that she could have a career as a musician if she took up 'an unpopular orchestral instrument'. She began learning the double bass a week later.

She was a student at the Royal Academy of Music and for over 30 years has played with renowned orchestras, including the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, English Baroque Soloists, London Classical Players and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment , which she co-founded and where she was principal double bass for three decades.

In 2015, she set up Chineke! to support, inspire and encourage black and minority ethnic musicians. Last year the Chineke! orchestra made its debut at the BBC Proms, and Chi-chi was awarded an OBE for her services to music.

Producer: Sarah Taylor.

Available now

38 minutes

Last on

Fri 16 Feb 2018 09:00

Music Played

  • Franz Schubert

    The Trout Quintet: IV. Thema. Andantino mit Variationen

    Performer: Emanuel Ax. Performer: Yo‐Yo Ma. Performer: Pamela Frank. Performer: Rebecca Young.
    • Schubert Trout Quintet.
    • Sony.
    • 4.
  • Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

    Ballade in A minor, op. 33

    Orchestra: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Grant Llewellyn.
    • Coleridge Taylor: RLPO.
    • Decca.
    • 1.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Twelve Variations in C Major K. 265/300e

    Performer: Ronald Brautigan.
    • My First Mozart Album.
    • X5 Music Group.
    • 15.
  • Nina Simone

    My Baby Just Cares For Me

    • The Very Best of Nina Simone.
    • Sony.
    • 2.
  • Prince Nico Mbarga

    Sweet Mother

    • The Essential Guide to Africa.
    • Essential Guide.
    • 5.
  • Julie Andrews


    • The Sound of Music.
    • RCA Victor.
    • 11.

    • Joseph Haydn

      The Creation

      Orchestra: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
      • The Creation.
      • 13.
  • Sister Sledge

    We Are Family

    • We Are Family.
    • Warner Music.
    • 5.

    Black Shamrocks by Gus Nwanokwu


    Orthopaedic pillow


Role Contributor
Presenter Kirsty Young
Interviewed Guest Chi-chi Nwanoku
Producer Sarah Taylor


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