Chineke! Orchestra/Marshall at Queen Elizabeth Hall
Published at 12:01AM, September 17 2015
In a city that is 55 per cent black, Asian and minority ethnic, that
has five symphony orchestras and four conservatoires, we still see only
one or two players of colour in most performances of classical music.
Here were 60 players of colour: soloists, chamber musicians, educators, students and orchestral players from the CBSO, Philharmonia, BBC Symphony
Orchestra and Opera North; from orchestras in South Africa, America, Austria and Germany; from the London and Manchester colleges, Oberlin and the Juilliard; from Nigerian, Sri Lankan, Trinidadian, Guyanese, Ghanaian and Jamaican heritage. Brought together by the double-bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku, led by American virtuosa Tai Murray and conducted by Wayne Marshall, they played
Coleridge-Taylor’s Tchaikovskian Ballade for Orchestra with bold lyricism and brilliant gadfly trills. Philip Herbert’s tender 1999 Elegy: In memoriam Stephen Lawrence was tinted in hues of grey and silver by the reduced strings.
In Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony everything fell into place, galvanised from below by the timpanist Paul Philbert and from above by the flautist Eric Lamb, both fine Beethovenian stylists. Clarinets, oboes and bassoons warmed into their roles and the strings eased into the sob and shrug of the Allegretto. As Marshall said, this was just the beginning for Chineke!, but what a beginning.