Sir Charles Groves Prize awarded to Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE

Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, Founder and Artistic & Executive Director of the Chineke! Foundation and joint winner of the 2020 Sir Charles Groves Prize, has been presented with her award by Making Music Chief Executive Barbara Eifler.

The presentation look place during the Chineke! Orchestra concert on Friday 28 May at London Royal Festival Hall – the first live-audience concert of Southbank Centre’s ‘Summer Reunion’ season. 

Professor Martin Ashley, Editor-in-Chief of the Association of British Choral Directors’ Choral Directions Research, is the other winner of the prize, and will be presented with his award at the Association of British Choral Directors (abcd) Choral Leaders’ Festival in September.

Selected by Making Music’s board of management, the biennial Sir Charles Groves Prize recognises the outstanding contribution of individuals and organisations to the musical life of the UK.

Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE established the Chineke! Foundation in 2015, which supports, inspires and encourages Black and ethnically diverse classical musicians working in the UK and Europe. A founder member of the Orchestra for the Age of Enlightenment, she held the position of principal double bass for 30 years. Throughout her career she has performed and recorded diverse styles from authentic baroque to 21st century, as well as new commissions with many of Europe’s leading chamber orchestras and ensembles.

As a broadcaster, Nwanoku presents regularly for BBC radio and TV, and is currently presenting ‘Chi-chi’s Classical Champions’, a six-part series for Classic FM which shines a spotlight on Black and ethnically diverse composers and performers.

Barbara Eifler, Making Music Chief Executive, said:

“This award recognises Chi-chi Nwanoku’s outstanding work in increasing and showcasing the diversity of talent in classical music. On top of all her own professional engagements, she has worked tirelessly to ensure that everyone has access to classical music, has role models and pathways into this music, and is able to build a sustainable career within it. Chi-chi does not just talk the talk, but walk the walk – as well as being an articulate speaker on inclusion and access, she’s a doer who just went ahead and set up the Chineke! Foundation, to start making things happen that nobody else was doing – truly an inspiration to us all.”

Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE said:

“I’m deeply honoured to be receiving the Sir Charles Groves Prize alongside Professor Martin Ashley. It’s humbling to be counted among such illustrious recipients of this award – peers, mentors and icons who have inspired me over nearly 40 years of working in this industry. My firm belief has always been that classical music is for, and should be, accessible to everyone, no matter your social or economical background or where you're from. My aim with the Chineke! Foundation has been to give Black and ethnically diverse musicians and audiences a point of reference, a space where they can belong and access a treasure trove of music as well as to share the opportunities and benefits the state education system gave me in music. The industry is gradually looking as though it wants to open up, become more diverse, inclusive and offer a sense of belonging, so if I have helped to facilitate that change then all is well.”

Find out more about the Sir Charles Groves Prize, including previous winners.
Read our press release on both 2020 winners.