Turning Chocolate Into Music


Like their fellow country people, the cocoa farmers in northwest Madagascar have a rich musical heritage. (Check out an album called Vakoka to hear a collaborative compilation by Madagascan musicians.) Each region of the large island nation has its own musical style, unique instruments and dances to match. But if you told a rural farmer that his fine flavour beans would end up helping musicians in an orchestra in London you’d be met with a great big “NO way!” But that is exactly what happened late last year. 

You may remember that when we kicked off our crowdfunding campaign in 2018, we included a Willie Wonka-style incentive where anyone investing would automatically be entered into a draw to win their weight in chocolate. 

With the incentive giveaway totalling around 800 bars, the big question was what would you do with that amount of chocolate? Have one a day for 2 years? Throw a huge party and spoil all your friends (you’d have a lot)? Most of us had crazy thoughts like this as a kid but taking on the challenge as an adult is another thing!

As fate would have it, the winner of his weight in chocolate following the completion of our crowdfunding campaign was a resident of Richmond and a lover of classical music. While he kept some bars to enjoy with family and friends, John also realised he could turn chocolate into currency to support his passion for orchestral music.

Onto the auction table MIA would go and after the bidding dust had settled, those distant Madagascan cocoa farmers in the tropics of northwest Madagascar had helped the London-based Ernest Read Symphony Orchestra further its cause to spread music as widely as possible, in particular to children and young people. 

That’s one to hum… or sing… or whistle about!