Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Chi-chi Nwanoku MBE: Black British Business Awards Script: The impact of her achievements is beyond measure

EveningStandard: Double bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku has been named Black British Business Person of 2016 Adrian Weinbrecht/BBC

On October 8, 2016 AfriClassical posted: 

Sergio A. Mims: EveningStandard: Black Business Awards given to rising stars [Including Double Bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku]

Today, October 11, 2016, Chi-Chi Nwanoku forwarded the script of the announcement of her award.  She tells us she was overcome with emotion when she realized the speaker was referring to her:

KENNETH OLUMUYIWA THARP OBE; announcing the Black British Business Person of the Year Award.


HOST: And finally onto the moment we've all been waiting for. Looking around at all of our finalists, I'm sure you'd agree that choosing just one business person of the year would be a task none of us would like to undertake. However, that's the task we placed in front of our judges and after much discussion and deliberation, a winner was chosen.

We asked the panel to find the person who stood out amongst all of our amazing finalists. The judges sought to identify someone whose innovation, enthusiasm, dedication, vision and success has not only earned them the respect of their professional peers, but also makes them an outstanding role model of significant influence and stature.
Today we want to celebrate the exemplary impact our winner has had on their community and others around them. Please welcome to the stage, chief executive of The Place and one this year's judges, Kenneth Tharp 

First of all I cannot tell you what an honour it is to be standing here, and what a great pleasure it is to have the chance to tell you about the person who is about to become year's Black British Business Person of the Year.
Our winner is someone I have known and admired for the last 40 years.
Like our winner, I work in the arts. I’m head of a dance organisation called The Place. Our mission is to transform and enrich lives through dance. Let no one say that working in the arts isn't true business. As a charity we have to cut our cloth just like any other business, yet one of the most important measures of success for our organisation, that goes beyond profit and loss, is the difference we make to individual lives. 

And when it comes to making a difference to individual lives, the winner of this next award is someone who has spent their professional career bringing joy and fulfilment to countless individuals through their art form, as a classical musician of the highest order. But it is their work beyond the concert hall stage in the last two years in particular, that has completely changed the game in their field..
I have a question for you: When you think of classical music - who do you think it is for? 

Or to ask the same question in another way: When you last went to a classical music concert, who was it that you saw on the stage or in the audience? More to the point: Who did you not see on stage? Who did you not see in the audience? 
Classical music has a poor track record in term of diversity. For centuries, one could be forgiven for thinking that classical music was the prerogative of one group of people. The stages of concert halls around the world have for so many years seen so few non-white faces, that it is no surprise that the audiences for classical music are similarly lacking in diversity. For those of us who might worry about such things, it has seemed that nothing would ever change that. That is until last year.

On 13 September 2015, thanks to our winner, London saw the launch of Europe's first ever Black Minority Ethnic orchestra – Chineke! on the stage of the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

The concert was completely sold out, and looking round the auditorium no one could have said on that occasion that there wasn’t a non-white audience for classical music…

... and then the moment that 61 world class players from at least 28 different countries took to the stage to tumultuous applause, and that was before they had even played a note… so rare was sight were we witnessing… and then they played, gloriously, with skill,  precision and fire, and with that… everything changed.

FILM CLIP of CHINEKE in CONCERT (QEH, Sept 2015, Beethoven)

It's no coincidence that if you begin to change who is visible on stage, you begin to change  who is present in the audience.
Let me fast  forward to May 2016 and to the main concert hall at The Barbican. The BBC Young Musician competition was won by the prodigiously talented 17 year old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason; it was the first time a black musician had won the prestigious competition since it started 38 years ago. 

Our winner today talked of the importance of Sheku’s achievement and what it meant, describing it as:

‘a huge boost for all those who want to see greater diversity in classical music...‘  
but going on to say that: ‘Sadly, at a time when classical music is becoming ever more a preserve of the few, his story is the exception rather than the rule.’
It was to address this that our winner set up the Chineke! Foundation! and Orchestra, which 'aims to help level the playing field for young black and minority-ethnic music students' and musicians.'

The foundation also has a Junior orchestra for young musicians aged between 11 and 18, with the main orchestra members acting as mentors to the younger musicians. Sheku, by the way plays in both orchestras! But despite Sheku's undoubted success, our winner has ensured that Chineke's role is not just about finding the next single star, it's about building a constellation of stars,  growing a sustainable pathway for all the young black musical talent in this country that might otherwise go unrecognised and un-nurtured. Chineke! has already seen that success, with at least half a dozen of the young players winning top music prizes and one Junior orchestra member gaining a full scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music.
My fellow judges remarked that the Chineke! Foundation is both an impactful and virtuous cycle, not only presenting to the world exceptionally talented young people to traditional music audiences, but also attracting a more diverse audience to classical music. The work of the foundation over the past 12 months has garnered it coverage in a Government white paper on Culture; the orchestra has been made an Associate Orchestra of the Southbank Centre, been shortlisted for a Royal Philharmonic Society Award in the Ensemble category and received enormous acclaim.
But there are no laurels being rested upon here; this September an expanded Chineke orchestra of 72 players returned to the Southbank to play at the even more prestigious Royal Festival Hall, and astonish audiences. The work of the foundation continues apace. Its long-term goal is to get music embedded into the core of the state curriculum, and to become as much a part of school life as science or mathematics.

So to our winner... 

Born in London to Irish and Nigerian parents, our winner discovered music on a neighbour's piano at age seven. After injury prevented her from pursuing a career in athletics, she took up the double bass at eighteen and began studies at the Royal Academy of Music. Her reputation and trajectory as a young musician was simply extraordinary, and soon she was in demand internationally, becoming a virtuoso, one of the finest double-bassists in the world.

Her vast musical achievements include playing and recording with many of Europe's prestigious chamber orchestras and ensembles. She is Principle Double Bass and founder member of both the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Endymion Ensemble and is Professor of Double Bass Historical Studies at the Royal Academy of Music. Her services to music gained her an MBE in 2001.

She is undoubtedly a significant and influential voice in the world of classical music, she is an ambassador, an advocate, a trailblazer, a broadcaster: She's presented BBC Radio 3 Requests - and has just been co-presenting the four-part TV series All Together Now: The Great Orchestra Challenge series for BBC Four and BBC Two to find the orchestra that best captures the spirit of great British amateur music-making in the UK. But it is her tireless work in breaking down the barriers of access to classical music for young BME musicians that is both awe inspiring, and which sets her apart.
The impact of her achievements is beyond measure: to start to turn around a status quote that has been in place for hundreds of years is no small thing. As the conductor Sir Simon Rattle has said “Chineke! could deepen and enrich classical music in the UK for generations’.
I’m delighted to tell you that for these reasons, the judges were unanimous in deciding that the 2016 Black British Business Person of the year is Chi-Chi Nwanoku. 


By Shauna L. Howard (@ShaunaLHoward) 

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