This episode is our lockdown edition. I’m interviewing opera singer Peter Brathwaite, Susanna Eastburn, Chief Executive of Sound and Music, and Chi-chi Nwanoku, Founder, Artistic and Executive Director of Chineke!. We’re talking about how the pandemic has affected musicians in the UK, and how classical music might have to change as lockdown measures ease. We’re also discussing the UK government’s £1.57bn emergency fund for the arts, and how it should be spent.
Peter Brathwaite is an opera singer. After his degree at Newcastle University he trained at the Royal College of Music and Flanders Opera Studio, Belgium. Recent and future engagements include performances with the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Glyndebourne, La Monnaie, Nederlandse Reisopera, Opéra de Lyon and Opera North. His wider professional interests include new work, diversity in arts education and mentoring. He has written for The Guardian and The Independent, and is a BBC Radio 3 Next Generation Voice. Documentary work includes BBC Radio 4’s Black Music in Europe 2, presented by Clarke Peters. He currently writes and presents features for BBC Radio 3’s Essential Classics. He is a Churchill Fellow, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a Trustee of the Gate Theatre, London.
Susanna Eastburn became Chief Executive of Sound and Music (www.soundandmusic.org) in September 2012. This is the latest senior appointment in a varied career that has included being Director, Music at Arts Council England from 2008-2012. Her first role was in music publishing, working at Music Sales Ltd with a number of leading composers. In 2000 she was appointed as Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, a role she fulfilled between until 2005, when she was selected as a Fellow on the inaugural year of the Clore Leadership Programme.
In May 2019 she was elected Chair of Orchestras for All, the innovative music charity which gives 11-18 year olds with complex lives the opportunity to access the life-changing experience of ensemble music-making. She is a Trustee of Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and a Fellow of Leeds College of Music. She is on the jury for Classical Next 2021.
Susanna combines her role as Chief Executive of Sound and Music with a range of independent projects.
In 2018 she was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for Services to Music, whilst in 2017 she was awarded a Gold Badge Award by the Ivors Academy in recognition of her support for the songwriting and composing community. She is a keen chamber musician and plays the viola.
Double bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE studied at the Royal Academy of Music, where she is a Professor and Fellow, and with Franco Petracchi in Rome. She is the Founder, Artistic and Executive Director of the Chineke! Foundation, which encourages diversity in the classical music industry through its orchestras, the Chineke! Orchestra and Chineke! Junior Orchestra, and its community engagement work. Chi-chi has been instrumental in creating opportunities for talented Black and Minority Ethnic musicians through concerts, commissioning new works, championing historical BME composers, and by establishing scholarships with the major UK conservatoires.
She created the ABO/RPS Salomon Prize, which celebrates ‘unsung heroes’ working in the ranks of British orchestras. In 2012 Barrie Gavin directed a documentary film about Chi-chi’s career, Tales from the Bass Line, and in 2018 she featured on BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs. As a broadcaster Chi-chi has presented for BBC Radio 3 & 4, BBC TV Proms Extra, BBC 2 TV Classical Star, and BBC 4’s All Together Now, the Great Orchestra Challenge. She also presented an award-nominated Sky Arts documentary profiling composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and hosted a Scala Radio show featuring guests from Chineke! Orchestra.
An Honorary Fellow of Trinity Laban Conservatoire and Honorary Doctor at Chichester University and the Open University, Chi-chi was awarded the OBE in 2017 for Services to Music. She has won Black British Business Awards ‘Person of the Year’; an ABO Award for ‘most important contribution to orchestral life of the UK’; the Commonwealth Cultural Enterprise Award for Women in the Arts and a Creative Industries Award at Variety Catherine Awards. Chi-chi has featured in the Top 10 of BBC Woman’s Hour, Women in Music Power List, the Royal Academy of Music exhibition Hitting the Right Note: Amazing Women of the Academy, the 2019 and 2020 Powerlist of Britain’s 100 Most Influential Black People.
The theme tune is ‘Dragon-flies’ by Ethel Glenn Hier, performed by Joanna Goldstein for Centaur Records.