Press release

Christian Aid and Chineke! collaborate on global orchestral work on the theme climate emergency

A new orchestral work on the theme of climate change will see its debut performance in the run-up to the G7, as international development agency Christian Aid calls for more action on climate justice.

The music, entitled Song of the Prophets: A Requiem for the Climate, will be performed by Chineke! – Europe’s first majority Black and ethnically diverse orchestra, at St Paul’s Cathedral.

The 12-minute piece is split into four movements – Creation, Ruin, Recovery and Redemption – each composed by a different Black British composer: Shirley Thompson OBE, Roderick Williams OBE, Daniel Kidane and Ayanna Witter-Johnson. The performance will include interludes from three musicians playing instruments from countries that are among those suffering most in the climate crisis.

Rapasa Nyatrapasa Otieno will play the nyatiti – an instrument played in Kenya, Renu Hossain will play instruments native to Bangladesh, and Richard Olatunde Baker will play the talking drum, native to west African countries including Nigeria.
Due to originally take place last year to mark 75 years of Christian Aid, the event will now take place online.

The music is inspired by Song of the Prophets: a global theology of climate change, a paper which was released by Christian Aid in 2014 and which was re-published in May 2020.

The online event, held in partnership with St Paul’s Institute, will include a welcome from Dr Paula Gooder (chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral), and Amanda Khozi Mukwashi (CEO of Christian Aid), as well as an address by Dr Rowan Williams (Christian Aid Chair) and messages from climate activists around the world.

“Christian Aid has been campaigning on the devastating effects of climate change for the world’s poorest people for over a decade. Throughout 2021, our Climate Justice campaign is drawing attention to the urgent action needed on this global crisis,” said Amanda Khozi Mukwashi.

“Climate change is having a devastating impact on every area of life in some of the countries in which Christian Aid works – from basic needs such as food and shelter, to issues such as education and women’s rights. The pervasive impact on everyone – and particularly those in the communities in which we work – means the world can no longer ignore it. The coronavirus pandemic has served to exacerbate already-existing issues for the world’s poorest and most marginalised communities, many of whom are on the frontline of the climate crisis.

“We believe in the power of the Church’s prophetic voice to bring about change on this issue – we need to hear the calls from our brothers and sisters who are being affected by climate change now. Music and the arts are powerful ways to tell uncomfortable stories, and we hope Song of the Prophets: A Requiem for the Climate will inspire us all to take much-needed urgent action. Although we had hoped to meet in-person in the grand setting of St Paul’s Cathedral, sharing the debut online means we can reach an ever greater audience – because all of us, no matter where we live, must call for urgent action to tackle climate injustice.”

The Chineke! Foundation was created in 2015 to provide outstanding career opportunities for established and up-and-coming Black and ethnically diverse classical musicians in the UK and Europe. The Foundation’s flagship ensemble, the Chineke! Orchestra, comprises exceptional musicians from across the continent brought together multiple times each year to perform a mixture of standard orchestral repertoire along with the works of Black and ethnically diverse composers both past and present.

Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE – Founder and Artistic & Executive Director of Chineke! – said: “We’re thrilled to be working with Christian Aid on this project. Their vision of dignity, equality and justice for all living in extreme poverty around the world – no matter their faith – is an inspiring one. As someone of Nigerian and Irish descent, I recognise the stark inequalities that exist between the richest and poorest globally and want to do my bit to help. We are excited by Christian Aids creativity and vision to rally people together to stop the climate crisis.”

Free tickets to Song of the Prophets: A Requiem for the Climate are now available and can be booked here.

Event details:
Song of the Prophets: A Requiem for the Climate
Wednesday, 9 June 2021
Join us online at 7pm
For more information, or for media enquiries, contact Claire Meeghan