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Chi-chi Nwanoku, Chineke! Foundation—Celebrating diversity in classical music—Interview—CAMA at Home

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CAMA at Home Presents

An Interview with
CHI‑CHI NWANOKU, OBE, FRAM, HonFTL

Michael Below, story editor
Isaac Hernández/ , editor

Produced by Justin Rizzo‑Weaver for CAMA at Home


This first‑ever celebrity interview in the CAMA at Home digital content series features Chi‑chi Nwanoku, one of the most celebrated string bassists in classical music. For more than four decades, Chi‑chi Nwanoku has built a broad career, performing and recording in a diversity of styles, from authentic baroque to twenty‑first century commissions. She is a founding member of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, a name familiar to CAMA patrons from the Orchestra’s concert in the International Series at The Granada in 2018. Chi‑chi is also a trustee of the London Music Fund, which has funded opportunities for more than 10,000 children across London to learn to play musical instruments. She was awarded both the MBE in the 2001 Queen’s Birthday honors and the OBE for Services to Music in 2017.

Chi‑chi is the Founder, Artistic, and Executive Director of the Chineke! Foundation, which provides career opportunities for both established and up‑and‑coming Black, Asian and ethnically diverse classical musicians across the UK and Europe. In 2019, the Chineke! Orchestra was the first‑ever recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Gamechanger Award. Additionally, Chi‑chi has been an outspoken supporter of the current Black Lives Matter movement, calling for institutional change to combat systemic racism in Britain and beyond.

CAMA was to have presented the Chineke! Orchestra in April 2020. Unfortunately the tour was cancelled as the coronavirus pandemic darkened stages worldwide. Everyone at CAMA looks forward to hearing Chineke! Orchestra live in Santa Barbara in a future season!

We hope this powerful interview gives you a taste of the depth of vision in Chi‑chi Nwanoku that has made Chineke! a true champion of change in classical music.

CAMA at Home is supported by Northern Trust


With special thanks to Elizabeth Alvarez, Tamerin Busia, Charles Donelan, Elly Iverson, Jefferey Spivey, and Devin Weaver.

BONUS! (see link at bottom):
A Playlist of Ethnically Diverse Music and Performers by Chi-chi Nwanoku
A playlist of Music Composed or Performed by Black, Asian and Ethnically Diverse Musicians and Composers

Playlist created by Chi‑chi Nwanoku

Playlist featuring Chineke! Orchestra, Isata Kanneh‑Mason, Errolyn Wallen, Chiquinha Gonzaga, Samuel Coleridge‑Taylor, Florence Beatrice Price, Paul Freeman, William Grant Still, José Maurício Nunes Garcia, Stewart Goodyear, Anthony Parnther, James Wilson, Fela Sowande, Adolphus Hailstork, George Walker, Johnson, and more.

Playlist link:


Chineke! Foundation Website:


About CAMA:
CAMA, Santa Barbara’s oldest arts organization, brings the finest classical musicians from around the globe to Santa Barbara, California. CAMA presents an exciting mix of internationally acclaimed orchestras and soloists in two concert series. The organization is now in its 102nd Concert Season in 2020/2021.

CAMA’s Mission Statement (adopted October 19, 2017):
CAMA’s mission is to enrich Santa Barbara’s cultural life by bringing live performances by world‑renowned classical artists and orchestras of the highest artistic excellence to our community and by providing creative, focused music education programs for individuals of all ages.

CAMA’s Centennial Statement (adopted September 28, 2017):
CAMA’s presentation of live classical music performances featuring world renowned artists and orchestras over the past 100 years is testament, not only to its founders and successors who have upheld their commitment to enrich Santa Barbara’s cultural life, but also to the citizens of our community who have supported our legacy. Through war, drought, fire and change, CAMA has continued to grow and to expand its community education programs. Today, CAMA continues to enrich the lives of the Santa Barbara region and its visitors, so that we can all experience and enjoy classical music through live performances and educational outreach of the highest caliber for future generations. •

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