Press release

Christian Aid and Chineke! collaborate on global orchestral work to highlight climate emergency

Composers and musicians from around the world are collaborating on a new orchestral work on the theme of climate catastrophe, commissioned by international development organisation Christian Aid.

The UK NGO – which celebrates its 75th birthday this year – is collaborating with Chineke!, Europe’s first majority-black and minority ethnic (BME) orchestra, on the creation of a 12-minute piece to raise awareness of the devastating effect of climate change on the world’s poorest people.

Song of the Prophets: A Requiem for the Climate will be split into four movements – Creation, Ruin, Recovery and Redemption – and will premiere at St Paul’s Cathedral on Wednesday, 20 May.

It 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 will be re-published ahead of the event in May.

The performance will take place shortly after Christian Aid Week 2020 (10-16 May), the organisation’s annual fundraiser which this year highlights the plight of people in the global south living on the frontline of the climate emergency.

The launch 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 a keynote address by Dr Rowan Williams (Christian Aid Chair) and a panel of climate activists.

“Christian Aid has been campaigning on the devastating effects of climate change for the world’s poorest people for over a decade. Throughout 2020, 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.

“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 are hoping Song of the Prophets: A Requiem for the Climate will inspire us all to take much-needed urgent action.”

The Chineke! Foundation started in 2015 to provide outstanding career opportunities for established and up-and-coming BME 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 BME composers both past and present.

Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE – founder 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.”

Norman Pickavance, director of St Paul’s Institute, said: “We look forward to welcoming Christian Aid and Chineke! to the Cathedral to call for action to address the global impact of climate change. We must recognise our duty to the voiceless: the vulnerable and future generations. Our lives need to change today if we are committed to ensuring a habitable and just world tomorrow.”

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
St Paul’s Cathedral
Wednesday, 20 May 2020
7pm-8.30pm (Doors open 6.15pm)

(Photo credit: Ntando Brown)