One of the things I often ask myself about, while letting my thoughts wander in the shower, is how I get mentioned in other people’s conversation; how they perceive me from an outsider’s perspective, and how (if at all) I’ve impacted their lives. I can still remember to this day strangers I’ve talked to or even noticed on the tube who I suppose have somehow changed the course of my life even by a millionth of a degree.
Today, the Chineke! Orchestra, including me, got to see someone experiencing this first-hand: Patrick Hutchinson, the main subject of the quintessential Black Lives Matter protest photo that did the rounds in every news agency worldwide. Patrick is the black man in this photo carrying an injured white far-right counter-protester to safety.
As I write this, I’ve just returned from the live Radio 3 broadcast of Chineke!’s “Black Legacies” concert, featuring a piece inspired by his actions. Patrick came to the rehearsal to thank the orchestra, and even from the back of the percussion section, I could sense his subtle humbleness and humanity. I cannot possibly imagine what it would be like going from being a children’s athletics coach to being the face of a moment that has impacted millions of lives worldwide. For me, Patrick is neither a Black History nor a Black Futures hero, but a Black Present one.
I’ve had the opportunity to play with the Chineke! Junior orchestra, which was my direct opening to playing with the Seniors. They’ve provided me with fantastic opportunities including a very special one: playing in the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent which was an amazing horizon-expanding experience – but also providing me with endless concert opportunities, a countless variety of projects of all shapes and sizes, and supporting me at every moment they’ve been able to. I think that their work is incredibly inspiring and makes me proud to be part of their pursuit of greater diversity in classical music, even more so because of how much they will provide for each kid that joins the orchestra. Starting them young, building up their confidence so they can become flourishing world-class players that can promote Black, Asian and ethnically diverse excellence.
Toril is a percussionist currently studying for his first year at Royal College of Music. In 2018 and 2020 he reached the Percussion Finals in BBC Young Musician and was also the winner of the Sussex Young Musician competition. He was the youngest participant in the LSO Academy in 2017 and was also part of the LPO Junior Artist scheme. Toril has been involved in various projects such as playing alongside Dame Evelyn Glennie and playing marimba in the pit at Glyndebourne. With an eclectic musical taste, Toril also composes, having been highly commended multiple times and being awarded first prize in the BBC Proms and RCMJD composition competitions respectively. He has performed solo recitals at many venues including the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the RAH’s Elgar Room and would like to thank the RCM for awarding him with a Parnassus scholarship, and the Cherubim Music Trust for the loan of his 5-octave Marimba.