#iamchineke2018: Theodora Acha, violinist

Welcome to our new series #iamchineke2018! 

Every fortnight, we share the stories of people who have experienced Chineke! in their own words- audience members, musicians, visiting artists, or members of the community.

Our first post features Chineke! Junior Orchestra member, Theodora- Angelica Acha, violin

My name is Theodora-Angelica Acha, I am currently in Year 6 and I have been playing the violin since I was three years old. I attend the Trinity Music Academy in Croydon where I study Violin under Helen Davies, Piano with Lindy Tennent-Brown and Composition under Marcos Fernandez. Outside the academy, I also study the French horn under Martin Grainger and Viola with David Holland. I perform regularly with the Sutton Youth Symphonic Orchestra, Sutton Youth Symphonic Band,Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra and I am also a full member of the National Children’s Orchestra ofGreat Britain (Under 11 category) for 2018.

I attended my first Chineke! Concert in September 2016 with my mum and grandmother and was privileged enough to meet the founder of the Chineke! Foundation Chi-Chi Nwanoku OBE. She asked me many questions about my musical studies after which she gave me her contact details and asked that I stay in touch. One cold evening in February 2017, we received a phone call out of the blue; it was from Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE and my mum was so star-struck, she could not speak for a whole minute! After a long phone conversation, which culminated in my mum uploading some video recordings of my recent violin recitals, I was invited to join the Chineke! Juniors as a violinist and was extremelyexcited at the prospect. Unfortunately, I suffered a relapse of Hodgkin’s lymphoma 3 months into remission and was consequently unable to be part of that performance.

On my 10th birthday in March, while I was still undergoing treatment, Chi-chi organised individual happy birthday renditions from various members of the Chineke Junior Orchestra on violin, piano and cello and even sent me one of herself on the double bass! It was the best birthday surprise ever and I could not wait to complete treatment and join the Chineke! family.
In July of the same year (and 2 weeks post treatment), I jumped at the chance to perform with the Chineke! Juniors at The Royal Festival Halls at The Southbank. On the first day of the intense 3-day rehearsals, I was quite apprehensive; I did not know anyone, the members all appeared to be older than I was and all seemed to know each other - I despaired that I would ever make any friends but this fortunately, did not turn out to be the case and one year
down the line, I find the camaraderie within the orchestra almost palpable and have made quite a few friends to boot.

The repertoire I have played with the Chineke! Juniors has been both challenging and varied, ranging from symphonies by Joseph Haydn to Chevalier de St Georges, the latter composer holding particular significance for me as he achieved so much in his day despite the seemingly
insurmountable hurdles that he had to face and I am thrilled to be part of an orchestra that is
helping to bring to the fore, this talented but forgotten composer and his works.

Being part of the Chineke! Juniors gives me a sense of pride and belonging, makes me feel special, and inspired to play alongside members with similar musical experiences and aspirations. I feel privileged to be part of an orchestra that has players that I look up to such as Didier Osindero (whom I had first seen and heard perform a movement of Bruch’s violin concerto at Bryanston in Dorset when I was four years old and have idolised ever since!), Isata Kanneh-Mason, Briamah Kanneh-Mason, Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Elodie Chousmer-Howells and I hope that sometime in the future, I, in turn, would be able to inspire a younger generation in the enjoyment of and participation in classical music as those before me have done.