Saturday, December 30, 2017

Sergio Mims: Chineke! The story of a concert that went viral

Kevin John Edusei

Jeanine De Bique

Sheku Kanneh-Mason

Sergio A. Mims forwards this link:

The Proms 2017 season is over, but the concerts live on! On our Facebook page, a highlights clip of the Chineke! Prom is still clocking up huge numbers – an astonishing 2.6m views and 57,000 shares as of 1 October 2017, making it the social-media success of the season.

And our second most-viewed and shared clip on Facebook? Also from the Chineke! Prom – Trinidadian soprano Jeanine De Bique's stunning performance of 'Da tempeste il legno infranto' from Handel's Julius Caesar.

Truly, Prom 62, conducted by Kevin John Edusei, was the breakout Prom of the festival and below are a few reasons why.


Chineke! formed just two years ago

Yes, it really was as recently as 2015 that the Chineke! Foundation was established by double bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE to provide, in the foundation's words, "career opportunities to young Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) classical musicians in the UK and Europe".

Its flagship ensemble is the Chineke! orchestra and that it could go from forming to debuting at the Proms in such a short period of time captured imaginations – within classical music and far, far beyond.

In their ranks is a superstar youngster

Not every musician, however good they are, is sprinkled with stardust but cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason certainly is. He's gone from being awarded the Marguerite Swan Memorial Prize for the highest marks in the UK for Grade 8 cello (aged 9), to winning BBC Young Musician 2016, to inking a deal with Decca, to making his Proms debut with Chineke!, and he's still only 18. And what a debut performance he gave us – superb accounts of Dvořák's fabulous Rondo (above) and David Popper's Hungarian Rhapsody.


established writing talent that deserves a bigger audience

In a 2015 Guardian article, Tom Service, who presents for Radio 3, declared George Walker to be "the great American composer you've never heard of". And this neglect was despite the fact that Walker was the first African-American to win the Pulitzer for music.

In the internet age, his work is coming into better and better focus and that's long-overdue. Walker is 95 and this performance of his best-known piece, Lyric for Strings – written when he was 24 – marked his Proms debut. 

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