Exclusive: King Charles and the Chineke! connection

Exclusive: King Charles and the Chineke! connection


norman lebrecht

October 09, 2022

We understand that Chi-chi Nwanoku, founder of the British diversity orchestra Chineke!, was approached recently by an aide to the new King, suggesting that he wished to become patron of her entreprise.

Nwanoku was said to be ‘chuffed’, ‘over the moon’ and other variants of delighted.

Now, however, that oppostunity may be lost.

Knowing that she refused to let the orchestra play the National Anthem in memory of his mother, the King can surely not reward her with one of his greatest gifts.

And given Chi-chi’s views on the racism of the British Empire, she could surely not accept it.


  • Guest Principal says:

    Tick, tock

  • Rob Keeley says:

    All this suggests the virtue-signalling naivety of our new King.

  • Backdoc says:

    She has overplayed her hand.

  • soavemusica says:

    Yes, well…

    Regarding performances, the Queen appears not have had a tantrum in 70 years. Her humour, when evident, was intentional, and endearing:


    King Charles III lasted 70 seconds. His humour unintentional, embarrassing.


    From a founder of a “diversity orchestra”, I would expect a multitude of double standards, so…

  • william osborne says:

    Noblesse oblige can be a form of intimidation, if not a false representation, but this could also be an opportunity for both sides to reach for reconciliation and make important social gestures, especially given the egregious lack of diversity in classical music. If properly done, it would certainly raise Charles’ image in my mind.

    • Jobim75 says:

      What about lack of diversity in rap music universe or in us basketball? How do we take care of this important matter?

      • Guest says:

        This is a tired and hoary piece of whataboutery, from somebody knowing little about either basketball or rap or diversity. But to answer, “the NBA in 2021 was composed of 73.2 percent black players, 16.8 percent white players, 3.1 percent Latino players of any race, and 0.4 percent Asian players” (Wiki), so majority black, but diverse, as is the Chineke! orchestra. Rap originated with black Americans, but there are now many white rappers, though I imagine they are in the minority).

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    ‘… she could surely not accept it.’

    But double standards work just like that: when one doesn’t fit, you have the other.

  • Simon Scott says:

    Frankly,she has blown it. Why was she so stupid as to bite off the hand which fed her?

  • Adey says:

    Wow, you’re really sharpening those knives for Ms.Nwanoku. Yuja Wang on holiday or something?

  • Erik Temple says:

    …that’s call karma!

  • John R. says:

    So the same woman who has so much enmity towards the monarch that she wouldn’t allow the national anthem to played upon the Queen’s death was also delighted at the prospect of a royal patronage……? She doesn’t really seem like she’s thought things through very thoroughly.

  • Valzacchi says:

    Bravo!!! This is the kind of ground breaking journalism we need today.

  • John says:

    “We understand that maybe this happened. She maybe felt like this as a result. Now, however, what might have maybe been able to happen now maybe might not be able to happen. And maybe given her views it might never have happened. Maybe.”


  • Ellingtonia says:

    It would seem that King Charlie is not beyond joining the virtue signalling brigade!

  • andrew says:

    But what’s the bet that she won’t stop letting it be known she was approached. The woman has no shame and no perspective, it seams to me.

  • freddynyc says:

    The hypocrisy of liberals continues to astound me…..

  • Mr Marlow says:

    I note that Chi-chi Nwanoku’s principles did not stop her receiving a CBE nor the orchestra an Arts Council grant. Maybe they should return both as a protest?

  • sonicsinfonia says:

    Is the King, as a white anglo-saxon, welcome to patronise Chineke anyway?

  • Paul Johnson says:

    She shows hypocrisy on the Elton John scale! He said he was ashamed to be British post-Brexit, yet later he was proud because he bagged another honour.

  • Herbie G says:

    In view of her attitude to this country, it seems unthinkable that she’s fawning up to King Charles. On reflection, and on the basis of all the other postings about her on SD, I have been wondering if she is suffering some mental disorder, first because of the inconsistencies of her statements and behaviour and second because I don’t recall any of this in the past. She just played her double bass in the Nash Ensemble and then broadcast a series on Radio 3 – all very pleasant and not at all controversial.

    Can anyone shed light on this? Have any of you worked with her in the past, or had any dealings with her at all? It’s not so much whether she is bossy, authoritarian or abrasive – there are plenty of people around like that who still do a good job. It’s this obsession with slavery, opression and discrimination – not just mentioning them en passant but being so combative and acrimonious.

    It also seems that she doesn’t care how much of a fool she is making of herself, without apparently defending her position or putting any cogent arguments forward to justify her bilious ramblings.

    Most importantly on that score, she presumably agreed to being on the shortlist for Controller of BBC Radio 3 and seems to be doing everything she can to make herself unsuitable for the job.

    Are there any shrinks out there who can suggest a rationale for this behaviour? She is clearly intelligent and it seems that she is self-harming with respect to her career. With the trustees of her charity leaving en masse, in default of any know rationale for her antics, I suggest Nero’s syndrome – he played the fiddle, she plays the double bass!

  • Simon Scott says:

    While I am disgusted with Chi Chi’s political shenanigans I have to say that somebody sent me a video of her playing some Dragonetti on a Basse de violon(a kind of large cello) and I was most impressed — beautiful sound, phrasing etc. Sometimes we just have to separate the artist from the person……

    • Herbie G says:

      Quite so Simon – nobody here has, as far as I can see, criticised her musicianship on the grounds of her political antics.

      It’s a bit like Wagner – I recollect that someome said something to the effect of ‘I’d like to shake Wagner’s hand as a composer and punch him on the nose as a person’.

      • Simon Scott says:

        @Herbie G.
        I totally agree with you. However, Herr Wagner was not the only pain in the history of music. Let’s take a look at some soloists past and present who are/were great musicians but not the best of people. We just have to turn a blind eye to these things otherwise we wouldn’t listen to anybody! We just have to grin and bear it.

  • Retired Principal says:

    As a retired principal player, I never, ever, considered the colour of a musicians skin when booking players. Can Chi Chi say the same? How many persons not of colour has She employed for Shineke?! IMHO not all racists are white.