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DIVERSITY is at the heart of programming this St George’s Day (April 23) with a concert from Europe’s first professional black and minority ethnic (BME) orchestra.

St George’s Bristol, just off Park Street, is bringing Chineke! Orchestra to the city, for the first time.

The orchestra, whose mission is to champion change and celebrate diversity in classical music, is joined by BBC Young Musician of the Year Sheku Kanneh-Mason. The leading concert hall and music venue has its own diversity objectives within the city, which has a BME population of 16%.

The concert is already a sell-out, with special guests including members of Bristol’s BME community and elders, who fight for civil rights, equality and inclusion. These include Dr Paul Stephenson OBE, Lord Lieutenant for Bristol Peaches Golding, Deputy Mayor Cllr Asher Craig, Roy Hackett and Roger Griffith.

It is followed on Monday (24 April) with the Diversity in the Arts Conference co-hosted by St George’s and the University of West of England (UWE).  This event, which brings together diverse communities and organisations to discuss diversity in the Arts in Bristol, is also fully booked.

Founder of Chineke! Orchestra, and double bassist, Chi-chi Nwanoku MBE is already known to Bristol audiences as a leading member of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

On St George’s Day Chineke! Orchestra is playing Joseph Boulogne – also known as the ‘Black Mozart’ Chevalier St George – Haydn, Elgar and Mozart.

St George’s has championed BME artists and those with disabilities from across music genres including classical, jazz, and world, and is seeking funding to deliver an education and outreach programme alongside Chineke! Orchestra.

Chief Executive of St George’s Bristol, Suzanne Rolt, commented: “We could not be more excited to be marking St George’s Day with the Bristol launch of an extraordinary new orchestra Chineke! – Europe’s first professional black and minority ethnic orchestra.

“Chineke! is also joined by BBC Young Musician of the Year Sheku Kanneh-Mason. This concert is music history in the making, and we will be following it with the Diversity in the Arts Conference.”

Chi-chi Nwanoku, founder of Chineke! Orchestra and the Chineke! Foundation, said: “We champion change and celebrate diversity in classical music. As an orchestra and foundation, we aim to be a catalyst for change.”

Dr Marie-Annick Gournet, who is a Trustee of St George’s and Learning for All Hub Leader for UWE Bristol, said: “The educational benefit of diversity in representation and in music is invaluable. It brings greater appreciation in ways of music making, ways of thinking and ways of living. I am proud of the way St George’s is leading on this.”

Future concerts at St George’s include internationally acclaimed singer Mor Karbasi, Korean violin virtuoso Kyung Wha Chung, and star of jazz, soul and gospel Carleen Anderson.

For those who have missed out on tickets for the St George’s Day concert, Chineke! Orchestra is returning to the concert hall on 26 November.

  • Sign up to the St George’s Bristol newsletter for concert details here, and go to Chineke.org for details of Chineke! Orchestra and Chineke! Foundation.