The Chineke! Junior Orchestra is a youth orchestra of Black and ethnically diverse players aged 11-22. The orchestra received the best compliment from Sheku Kanneh-Mason, a young cellist who was catapulted into the international limelight when he played during Prince Harry’s wedding: “Chineke! Orchestra was so inspiring for me because I was then suddenly surrounded by musicians and hearing their stories and being able to directly relate to them in a way I hadn’t been able to before.” In 2015 the Chineke! Junior Orchestra was founded – at the same time as the Chineke! Orchestra – to give musicians of different ethnic backgrounds a platform for their musical training. Intense pedagogical coaching is part of the concept, as are performances at the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and successful participation in the TV competition “Britain’s Got Talent”. The young orchestra members are from all over Europe. The founder and artistic director of the Chineke Foundation is the former sprinter and double bass player Chi-Chi Nwanoku, who previously played in the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment for 30 years.
While still a student at the Otto Falckenberg School in Munich, Meike Droste already appeared on major stages and won renowned awards. She has performed at the Salzburg Festival and the Münchner Kammerspiele, at the Berliner Ensemble she played the title role in Brecht’s Die heilige Johanna der Schlachthöfe, directed by Claus Peymann. No small feat for someone who hadn’t even graduated. From Berlin, she moved to Zurich, then back to Berlin. From 2016 to 2013, she was an ensemble member at the Deutsches Theater; since then she has been a freelancer. A gifted stage performer – who only came to a broader audience’s attention through television. For many years, she played the police officer Bärbel in the ARD series Mord mit Aussicht. In this role, Meike Droste – alongside her equally wonderful colleagues Caroline Peters and Bjarne Mädel – won the hearts of millions of viewers. Ever since, she has been ubiquitous on television and in movie theatres. Meike Droste was born near Augsburg in 1980, lives in Berlin with her two children and has been a Young Euro Classic fan for years. This is her first time appearing as a concert patron.
The conductor Glass Marcano is from Venezuela, where she also took her first steps as a violinist as part of the national music programme “El Sistema”. In 2006 she joined the Yaracuy Symphony Orchestra and the Yaracuyana Youth Symphony Orchestra, where she remained a member until 2012. After studying law, Glass Marcano began her training as a conductor in 2015 at the National Academy of the Arts in Caracas. She has participated in numerous conducting courses, e.g. with François-Xavier Roth, Giancarlos Guerrero, Claire Gibault and Maxime Pascal. In 2019 she reached the semi-finals at the first edition of the conducting competition La Maestra. At the moment, Marcano is studying in Paris; she recently conducted the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Lisbon, the Bogotá Symphony Orchestra and the Mozart Orchestra in Paris.
The Russian pianist of African descent received his excellent training in Moscow, completing everything from the famous Gnessin School to the Tchaikovsky Conservatory. In the meantime, Gerard Aimontche has performed not only in many Russian cities, but also at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, the Montreux Jazz Festival and Carnegie Hall in New York. He won the International Grieg Competition as well as the International Maria Yudina and Nicolai Rubinstein Competitions for young pianists. In 2016 he made his orchestral debut in Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 at the festival “Color of Music” in Charleston, South Carolina. Aimontche also recorded the same concerto in 2017 with the Chineke! Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall in London. “The notorious difficulties seem to present no problem to the agile and sonorous pianism of the young Russian virtuoso,” wrote the BBC Music Magazine. In 2018 the pianist undertook an extended tour of China at the invitation of Steinway & Sons.
”Othello Suite” Op. 79 (1909)
”Callaloo – Caribbean Suite” (2016)
Symphony No. 4 in F-minor Op. 36 (1877)
About the concert
Humour us by answering the following question: how many Black classical performers do you know off the top of your head? The Chineke! Foundation is trying to break through the privilege gap leading to this lop-sidedness: since 2015 the British foundation has supported Black artists in classical music, creating opportunities for musically gifted People of Colour which frequently turn out to be the career-defining Launchpad into the classical music world. The concert programme of the Chineke! Junior Orchestra also reflects its mission of bringing greater diversity to concert life. It begins with Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a London composer with roots in Sierra Leone, who set a splendid example of musical integration more than 100 years ago. The middle part stars pianist Gerard Aimontche, playing a piano concerto by Stewart Goodyear which the Canadian composer wrote for his own virtuoso fingers in 2016. And after the interval, we delve into great romantic feelings – with Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, whose musical qualities are by no means second to its more popular siblings, the Fifth and Sixth. On the conductor’s podium is the promising Venezuelan Glass Marcano, a winner of the first La Maestra Competition for female conductors in 2019 and the audience’s absolute favourite. Let your ears be opened!
The concert will be streamed LIVE on ARTE CONCERT and will be available afterwards in the media library: arteconcert.com.