Refused to anger after waking up the orchestra to play the national anthem after the death of the Queen

Anger after Awakened Orchestra which received more than £1m in public money refused to play the national anthem after the Queen’s death because it symbolized the racist ‘British Empire’ – despite its former director and founder receiving a CBE

  • Chineke! The orchestra performed at a Swiss festival during the period of mourning
  • But founder and artistic director Chi Chi Nwanoko banned God Save The King
  • The movement was criticized by members of parliament and music personalities as Ms. Nwanoko accepted the Central Bank of Egypt

The orchestra, which received more than £1m in public money, refused to play the national anthem after the Queen’s death because it said it symbolized the “racist” British Empire.

Chineke! The orchestra performed at the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland during the mourning period, but founder and artistic director Chi Chi Nwanoko banned playing God Save The King.

This move was criticized by deputies and musical personalities, noting that Ms. Nwanoko had accepted the honors, including the Central Bank of Egypt.

Chineke!  The orchestra played at the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland during the mourning period, but founder and artistic director Chi Chi Nwanoko (pictured) prevented the playing of God Save The King.

Chineke! The orchestra played at the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland during the mourning period, but founder and artistic director Chi Chi Nwanoko (pictured) prevented the playing of God Save The King.

In an email, Ms. Nwanoko, 66, wrote: “The Chineke! The orchestra is full of musicians who are not from the UK and many musicians who are a direct result of their ancestors being enslaved. We will not be playing the national anthem in Lucerne.

The 62-person group consists of the majority of black, Asian and ethnically diverse musicians.

The group already commemorated Prince Philip’s death in April 2021 with a minute’s silence. But Nwanoko said last month: “Many in the orchestra were incredibly resentful of being made to do this, and the reason is that the empire is built almost entirely on racism and the plunder of Africa.”

In another email she said: “I would be very uncomfortable to impose it on people a) who are not British and b) are not national and c) the list goes on. This does not mean that we are not saddened by the death of the Queen.

An insider said: ‘Chi Chi was adamant that the national anthem represented a British Empire that was a racist institution, which was responsible for the persecution of many of the orchestra’s instrumentalists’ predecessors.

Some of the orchestra members actually agreed with her because they were also worried about some of the lyrics. But I think it is fair to say that the majority of the orchestra wanted to do something for the Queen.

Some members preferred the idea of ​​a minute of silence. They wanted to do something but in the end, nothing was done.

The group already commemorated Prince Philip's death in April 2021 with a minute's silence.  But Nwanoko said last month:

The group already commemorated Prince Philip’s death in April 2021 with a minute’s silence. But Nwanoko said last month: “Many in the orchestra were incredibly resentful of being made to do this, and the reason is that the empire is built almost entirely on racism and the plunder of Africa.”

London-born Ms. Nwanoko, a acclaimed double guitarist of Irish and Nigerian descent, is one of the most recognizable figures in the UK classical music scene.

The orchestra has received more than £1 million from the Arts Council of England, which includes money from the National Lottery.

The disdain for the national anthem was first revealed on the classical music website Slipped Disc. Its owner, Norman Liebrecht, said: “It is terribly disappointing that a young British orchestra, which represented the country during a week of official mourning, was unable to perform the national anthem as a sign of respect for the late Queen. This is harmful, not to Britain but to Schenke!.

“If they are not willing to respect Britain and great British institutions like the royal family, they should stop taking public money,” David Mellor, a classical music critic and former arts minister, told The Mail on Sunday.

“It’s a strange opinion that sounds even stranger than someone with a bag full of homage,” said Julian Knight, Conservative MP and chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee.

Ms. Nwanoko has been contacted for comment.

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