In 2007, the Kampala Music School partnered with international musicians from The Commonwealth Resounds! to form the first-ever Commonwealth Festival Orchestra! This enabled musicians from different countries to perform side-by-side and with the help of Ugandan church choirs, perform Mozart’s Requiem for a large, appreciative congregation in Namirembe Cathedral, Kampala.
The orchestra was formed again for CHOGM 2009, when it was featured in a Gala Performance sponsored jointly by the Trinidad Government and the T&T Entertainment Company. A new piece was written for the orchestra by young composer Lloyd Coleman, who conducted it himself.
In 2013, the Commonwealth Festival Orchestra regrouped to give a memorable performance in Westminster Abbey as part of Commonwealth Observance Day. Young composer Toby Hession’s new piece ‘Paraphrase on the National Anthem of Sri Lanka’ was specially commissioned for this occasion. The orchestra performed musical items by Purcell, Handel and Vaughan Williams which were also played at the 1953 Coronation.
For CHOGM 2013, a large group of international musicians from The Commonwealth Resounds! have been hosted by the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka (SOSL) and combined to form a much bigger cross-cultural ensemble. All players will share skills and support one another. Professionals will coach self-taught players. The musical programme includes works that SOSL would never normally contemplate, and a specially composed fanfare by young composer Alan Mofti.
The Commonwealth Resounds! and the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka are both very proud of the collaborative example demonstrated by the Commonwealth Festival Orchestra, and believe that this is an inexpensive and highly effective way to help and support developing orchestras in different countries.