Chineke! Ensemble at Wigmore Hall


The Chineke! Ensemble delighted audiences at Wigmore Hall on Friday 21 June 2019 as part of the Wigmore Lates series.

Featuring a dynamic programme that included Camille Saint-Saëns - Septet in E flat Op. 65, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor -Nonet in F minor Op. 2, and the London première of NNENNA by Errollyn Wallen, the evening was a joyous occasion that displayed the combined forces of our fine Chineke! musicians:

Tai Murray (violin, leader), Didier Osindero (violin), Lena Fankhauser Campregher (viola), Ashok Klouda (cello), Adam Wynter (double bass), Rebeca Omordia (piano), Pierre Buizer (French horn), Aaron Akugbo (trumpet), Andres Yauri (bassoon), Mariam Adam (clarinette) and Titus Underwood (oboe).

The concert was warmly received by Paul Driver writing in The Sunday Times:

Wigmore Hall was certainly an enjoyable place to be […] Filling the Friday late-night slot were the Chineke! Ensemble, a group of 11 players drawn from the black and minority ethnic orchestra, offering two 19th-century rarities and the London premiere of a piece commissioned from Errollyn Wallen (born 1958): her memorial septet, Nnenna (2018). The instrumental combinations deployed were unusual. Saint-Saëns’s Septet in E flat (1880) sets a trumpet beside a string quartet, double bass and piano, and just about makes a sonorous balance possible, though the trumpet is notably silent for a long stretch of the finale.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Nonet in F minor, Op 2 (1893), a teenage four-movement composition for four winds, four strings and piano, was quite bracing in its Brahmsian assurance. Wallen’s eponymous elegy for a Nigerian, Mgbafor Nnenna Inyama (1963-86), whom she never met, was a strikingly cogent essay for four strings, horn, bassoon and clarinet, evolving first into a passacaglia over double-bass pizzicati, then into a tonally full-blown African song.

Much seemed to have been said in a short span, the form and idiom alike satisfying. And the playing, here as throughout the concise concert, was invigorating. Invidious commendations to Rebeca Omordia for her keyboard crispness, and to the violinist Tai Murray, who led the ensemble with a manifestly joyous verve.

Robert Hughill’s 5-star review of the concert described “an evening of vibrant music making, with the 11 players (variously combined in the works) giving a real sense of chamber music ensemble yet also conveying their delight and enjoyment of the music.”

Congratulations to the players and to Errollyn Wallen, who was present on the night to share this wonderful London première with us. We’re looking forward to performing NNENNA in future concerts!