Player Spotlight: Chris Augustine
Today we shine the spotlight on Chineke! trombonist Chris Augustine, now Sub-Principal Trombone with the Welsh National Opera. We caught up with Chris, asking him a few questions about his experiences, what Chineke! means to him, and any advice he might give to aspiring musicians.
How did you become a musician/become involved in music?
I’ve always loved music from a young age and knew I wanted to become a professional musician amongst other things from the age of 7. I learnt the recorder, piano and viola before learning the trombone.
What do you wish someone had told you when you were first considering becoming a musician?
I do wish I was told how difficult it is to become a successful musician; the hours of practise, hundreds of lessons and the financial implications are challenges that I have met but I think I have worked through them.
How did you first hear about the Chineke! Foundation? What did you initially think of the idea and has that changed since you have been involved?
I was in Lourdes, France on pilgrimage with working with children with varying disabilities and I got a call from Chi-chi explaining about the foundation. I found the idea interesting, we had a 45-minute conversation about the various issues around the topic and I was intrigued. My thoughts and feelings on the topic remain the same and it is great to be part of this foundation.
Have you found that there are any specific challenges associated with being a BME musician? If so, what are they?
Personally no. But nevertheless, I do understand that there maybe others with different experiences in their lifetime. Though I live in Wales now, I spent 29 out of 30 years in London and I’ve skated through life just enjoying music without harmful prejudice.
What is the musical accomplishment you are most proud of?
Winning a job with the Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera as Sub-Principal Trombone. Most proudest moment of my life!
How has playing with Chineke! helped you/your personal development as a musician?
It’s given me an awareness that there may be a wider issue outside the realms of music which is sad to hear. I can only assume I have been a product of positive discrimination at times: for instance when applying for scholarships, a place on a course and trying to create performance opportunities. Playing with Chineke! will further my personal development as a musician as we get to perform pieces I’m not too familiar with and the opportunity to perform the classics - those are my favourite!
What advice would you give to an aspiring young BME musician?
Work hard and be yourself and you’ll achieve your goals
Christopher Augustine has a BMus from Goldsmiths College, a MMus from Trinity Laban Conservatoire and spent a Postgraduate year at the Royal Academy of Music.
Christopher holds the position of Sub-Principle Trombone of the Welsh National Opera. Prior to joining WNO, Christopher freelanced with many of the London orchestras including London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and Chineke! Orchestra. He has trialled for positions in both the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the BBC Concert Orchestra, and in London’s West End has worked on Wicked, Matilda, The Lion King and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. Christopher was also a member of the Foyle’s Future Firsts programme with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.