Chi-chi Nwanoku MBE
Founder, Artistic & Executive Director Chineke!, Principal double bassist,
Prof Royal Academy of Music, Broadcaster, Writer & Mentor
Tuesday 28th February 2017
Leadership, progression and success at the top – Raising the bar
House of Commons
An ex-sprinter and half the size of her double bass, Chi-chi Nwanoku has gained a reputation as one of the finest exponents of her instrument today.
The eldest of 5 children from Nigerian and Irish parents, she was 7 years old when she discovered the piano at a neighbour’s, who taught her to play a 12-bar blues. She returned to their house daily until the neighbour got so fed up they wheeled the piano up the road and gave it to her as a gift! Meanwhile, she was spotted (aged 8) by an athletics coach and trained as a 100- metre sprinter, eventually competing at National level. This career ended abruptly due to a knee injury aged 18, which is when (and why) she took up the double bass and actively pursued a career in music.
She studied at the Royal Academy of Music and with Franco Petracchi in Rome, and soon found herself in demand internationally.
Chi-chi is the Founder, Artistic and Executive Director of the Chineke! Foundation, which supports, inspires and encourages Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) classical musicians working in the UK and Europe.
The Chineke! Foundation champions change and celebrates diversity in the classical music industry through its two orchestras, the Chineke! Orchestra and Chineke! Junior Orchestra, as well as its educational and outreach work. Ultimately, the Chineke! Foundation aims to give classical BME musicians a platform on which to excel, and by such methods increase the representation of BME musicians in British and European orchestras. More information about the Chineke! Foundation and its work can be found at www.chineke.org.
Chi-chi is a founder member of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and held the position of Principal double bass there for 30 years. She is Professor of Double Bass Historical Studies at the Royal Academy of Music, where she was made a Fellow in 1998.
Chi-chi’s range of musical interests have resulted in a broad career performing and recording in a diversity of styles from authentic baroque through to 21st century and new commissions, with many of Europe’s leading chamber orchestras and ensembles. Some of her notable chamber recordings include Schubert’s ‘Trout’ Quintet (recorded three times), and Octet, Beethoven Septet, Hummel Piano quintet and Boccherini Sonatas. Her solo recording of Dittersdorf and Vanhal Concertos with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra; Hyperion CD 67179 received critical acclaim.
In 2012 Barrie Gavin directed a documentary film about Chi-chi’s career, called ‘Tales from the Bass Line’. As a broadcaster, Chi-chi presented BBC Radio 3 Requests for four years, she guests for the TV Proms and was Jury member of BBC 2 TV Classical Star. She presented a two part series for BBC Radio 4 in 2015 which brought to life the stories and music of black composers and musicians from the eighteenth century, whose vivd presence on the classical music scene have slipped through the net!
Chi-chi was also the ‘mentor’ for the 2016 BBC 4 TV series ‘All Together Now, the Great Orchestra Challenge’, showcasing the amazing talent of British amateur orchestras. Chi-chi is a trustee of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Mayor’s Music Fund, Tertis Foundation a Council Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society. She served on the board of the Association of British Orchestras (ABO) from 2008 to 2013. Chi-chi created the ABO/RPS ‘Salomon Prize’ which celebrates the “unsung heroes” working in the ranks of British Orchestras.
Awards and achievements
- Chi-chi was awarded an MBE for services to Music in the 2001 Queen’s Birthday honours.
- She was one of the 100 – Happy List in the Independent on Sunday 2011.
- In July 2016 she was appointed as an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Laban Conservatoire in recognition of her “pioneering contribution to music, in particular the inspiration she provides, the commitment she has shown, and the contribution she has made to addressing inequalities within classical music in the UK, most recently through the Chineke! Foundation.”
- Chi-chi was awarded the Black British Business Awards, Person of the Year 2016.
Source: Black British Business Awards 2017
Chi-chi is a dedicated advocate of the importance of music in everyone’s lives and is committed to teaching and sharing her love of music.
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Wednesday 17th August 2017
Rozan Ahmed is an internationally established writer, creative director, advisor, advocate, and popular commentator who plays an influential role in leading new frontiers and shifting attitudes in the worlds of fashion and entertainment.
She is deputy editor of the RWD magazine which she helped to make the United Kingdom’s biggest urban music and lifestyle publication.
Rozan merges the arts with social development and entrepreneurship and champions what she calls ‘cultural ownership’– taking pride in and embracing identity. She is breaking the barriers and connecting people between the diverse markets she works in: the United Kingdom, the Middle East, Africa, and the United States.
Rozan currently sits on the MOBO music panel and is an ambassador at the Young and Gifted Foundation, a distinguished member of the Royal African Society, an advocate for the We Want Peace organisation, Dubai’s Fashion Forward, Kenya’s Africa Yoga Project, and Sudan Change Now. She has also mentored for the Unreasonable Institute as part of the Unreasonable at Sea program, sailing from South Africa to Ghana in March 2013 alongside Richard Branson, Prince Fahad Al Saud and Desmond Tutu.
She was recognised by the United Nations, the Government of Sudan and the Government of Southern Sudan for orchestrating the country’s first celebratory concert for the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
- Congo Fashion Week’s global ambassador
- Style.com Arabia’s cultural ambassador
- Music World Cup’s Goodwill ambassador
- Nominated 2014’s Women 4 Africa Awards for Inspirational Woman & International African Woman
- Selected by Cosmopolitan magazine as one of the Middle East’s “Ultimate Women,” 2015
Join Nii Sackey in Nottingham on 2nd July.
Nii Sackey is the Chief Executive of Bigga Fish, a not-for-profit social enterprise which works with young people, and which he founded in 1999 when he was only 21 years old.
Bigga Fish is a youth music social enterprise, that engages young people though media, large scale events and developing youth enterprise initially in London and now across the UK.
In 2004, Nii was the youngest male recipient of the Clore leadership Award in its inaugural year. On this program he was seconded to the British Council, where he acted as a consultant working abroad developing music communities in the Middle East and North Africa.
Nii returned to Bigga Fish in 2005/6 where he continued to lead the development of a new phase of creative and community engagement projects such as Urban Classic working with the BBC Concert Orchestra, BBC Radio 3 and Serious. There was also a continued development of international projects, working with partners including British Airways in Brazil and South Africa.
In 2008, Nii was nominated and successfully awarded the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Breakthrough Award to develop a new model for social enterprise called GWOP.com, launching in spring 2011.
In 2009/10, Bigga Fish and Nii were the recipient of the Urban Music Awards Outstanding Contribution to The Community and the Kidscount Winner- Best Contribution to Youth Organisation 2010.
In 2013 Nii founded Bigga Business, a company created to distribute low-cost loans and mentoring to start ups of all age groups. Bigga Business is an official delivery partner of a government-backed initiative, Start Up Loans.
Nii currently runs three organisations, two which are based in the community and social enterprise, the third offering consultancy in dynamic solutions around youth engagement and digital innovation, previous clients have included Radio 1 and the Historic Royal Palaces.
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Join Writer, Activist, PR Guru, Entrepreneur and Culturalist Rozan Ahmed at the Nottingham Contemporary on Wednesday 2nd July 2014.
Rozan Ahmed lives her life fulfilling a passionate mission of connection: a “locally global” vision to empower, celebrate and merge diversity through creativity as an influential voice for the African continent across the UK, the Middle East, Africa and the US.
As an established writer, consultant, culturalist and commentator, Rozan continues to break business and social barriers by connecting and curating people, projects and products from the city of London (where she grew up) all the way to regions and societies in which she likes to call “returning markets”. A stern believer in additionally merging the arts with social development and entrepreneurship, Rozan has become a motivational personality when it comes to advocating the concept of “cultural ownership” – taking pride in identity, shaping it and embracing it.
As founder & editor of bougi, Rozan’s career spans a successful 13 years, counting the likes of international organisations, global music stars, local and international brands, presidents, royalty and civil society within her working realm. They include Justin Timberlake, P.Diddy, RWD, Michelle Rodriguez, Jay Z, the United Nations, Chanel, Adidas, the Princes Trust, Akala, Emmanuel Jal, the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Prince Fahad Al Saud, Formula One, Louis Vuitton, SonyBMG and much more.
As deputy editor of RWD magazine in the UK, she worked closely with her team in analysing, discovering and propelling what we know today as the “British urban music scene”, utilising what was the growing phenomenon of social media and negotiating a number of corporate relationships to quickly establish the title into what it is right now: the UK’s biggest urban music & lifestyle publication.
In Africa, she developed a series of monumental campaigns surrounding peace culture and was praised by the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), the GOS (Government of Sudan) and GOSS (Government of Southern Sudan) for orchestrating the country’s first celebratory concert, highlighting the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. ‘I wanted to musically symbolise the union between North and South’, said Rozan, ‘people often forget just how powerful music can be, particularly when it comes to positive messaging and its conscientious delivery to a younger audience’.
Rozan has been hailed as one of the ‘hardest working women in showbiz’ (Pride Magazine UK), ‘the woman who can’ (BBC Radio 1), ‘a powerhouse’ (POSE Dubai), ‘formidable’ (Drum Magazine KENYA), a ‘mogul in the making’ (DSTV’s AFRICA MAGIC), ‘one of the region’s most inspiring women’ (VIVA Magazine DUBAI), and ‘The new Oprah Winfrey’ (Marie Claire Italia)
Rozan currently sits on the UK’s MOBO music panel, she is a board member at the MAD global initiative and an ambassador for the Young & Gifted Foundation. She’s an avid supporter of the amFAR organisation, an advocate for Dubai’s Fashion Forward (the region’s leading fashion platform), Congo Fashion Week, Africa Yoga Project (Kenya), Sudan Change Now (Sudan), cultural ambassador at Style.com/Arabia and a selected mentor at the Unreasonable Institute for globally inclined social entrepreneurs.
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