Notes and Editorial Reviews
When I founded Chineke! in 2015, one of the most important aims, as well as creating a top-class orchestra comprising a majority of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) musicians, was to champion the music of BME composers, both living and from the past. Over these last three years we have given many performances of new commissions and existing works by some of the UK’s leading BME composers and I am delighted that six of these works are now captured in perpetuity on this NMC Recordings album. Chineke! has derived enormous pleasure in performing and recording these works, which represent such a variety of instrumentation and mood, and I hope that you, the listener, will gain as much enjoyment from hearing them.' - Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, FRAM, HonFTL Errollyn Wallen pays homage to Bach and Corelli in Concerto Grosso with its combination of dance elements and the buoyant rhythms of Baroque and popular music. James Wilson’s evocative The Green Fuse is inspired by Dylan Thomas’s poem “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower”and Julian Joseph’s energetic “Carry That Sound” combines elements of jazz and blues harmonies. Daniel Kidane’s Dream Song was written for the reopening of Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2018 and sets words from Martin Luther King’s powerful ‘I have a dream’ speech, sung by soloist Roderick Williams. Hannah Kendall’s The Spark Catchers draws on the dynamic poem by Lemn Sissay, commissioned for London’s 2012 Olympics.
Chineke! Orchestra and Chorus have brought together music by six contrasting composers, all working today. Errollyn Wallen’s Concerto Grosso (2008), compact and energetic, mixes stylistic patterns of the baroque with punchy jazz rhythms. James Wilson’s The Green Fuse (2017), buoyant and intense, is in pastoral mood. Hannah Kendall’s vibrant and compelling The Spark Catchers (2017), inspired by Lemn Sissay’s poem, gives the disc its title. Daniel Kidane’s Dream Song, which sets the words of Martin Luther King (sung by the baritone Roderick Williams), and Philip Herbert’s lyrical Elegy (1999) for 18 string players, in memory of the murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, reflect issues that, as Kidane says, “echo the unity of Chineke!”. The disc ends with Julian Joseph’s Carry That Sound, making a bluesy, upbeat conclusion.
– Guardian (UK)