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Chi-chi Nwanoku, born in London, is a double bass player, principal and co-founder of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and an academic teacher at the Royal Academy of Music. She is the founder of the Chineke! Foundation and Orchestra, the first professional orchestra in Europe to be made up entirely of black musicians.
She has worked as principal double bass of the ensemble Endymion, the London Mozart Players, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, the English Baroque Soloists, the London Classical Players and the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique.
Chinyere (Chi-chi) Adah Nwanoku is of Nigerian and 0Irish descent and is the oldest of the five children of her parents, Dr Michael Nwanoku and his wife Margaret (nee Ivey). Chi-chi was born in Fulham, London, and before reaching school age she spent some years in Imo State, Nigeria, where her family went for two years. She attended Kendrick Girls School in Reading, Berkshire. At the age of seven she began her education as a classical musician, first piano, and at the age of 18 bass. She subsequently studied at the Royal Academy of Music. She was also undertaking training as a 100-metre sprinter but had to end her athletic career following a knee injury.
In 2001 she was awarded an MBE for services to Music in the Queen’s Birthday honours. Besides playing and teaching bass, she has been active as a broadcaster, as in BBC Radio 3 Requests and in BBC TV Proms and as a member of BBC’s Classical Star Jury. She is member of various Boards as Patron of Mayor’s Fund for Young Musicians, Music Preserved, the Cherubim Trust and BBCF.
She lives in London and has two children.
- "Chi-Chi Nwanoku's Chineke! Orchestra Debuts Sept. 13 at Southbank Center", Classicalite, 23 July 2015.
- "Chi-chi Nwanoku: 'I want black musicians to walk on to the stage and know they belong'", The Guardian, 2 June 2015.
- "Chi-chi Nwanoku". Royal Academy of Music. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
- "Our founder| Chi-chi Nwanoku MBE", Chineke! Foundation.
- Ed Keazor, "Chi-chi Nwanoku: A Classical legacy and an African heritage", Music in Africa Magazine, 25 November 2014.
- "The Queen's Birthday Honours". BBC. 2001-06-15. Retrieved 2015-05-26.
- Chineke! Foundation official website
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