On Thursday June 28th, The Commonwealth Resounds (TCR) was very proud to welcome the National Youth Choir of Antigua and Barbuda to Hertfordshire. Alison Cox, TCR’s Founder and Chair of Trustees worked closely with Karen-Mae Hill, The High Commissioner of Antigua and Barbuda whose amazing fundraising efforts enabled the choir to visit the UK in 2018.
As part of their programme, the National Youth Choir visited primary and secondary schools in Hertfordshire who had raised funds for Antigua and Barbuda as part of TCR’s Commonwealth Hurricane Support Concert Programme.
Firstly, they visited the Bushey Academy, who are donating the proceeds of their annual House Music Festival to Antigua and Barbuda. The young people at Bushey greatly enjoyed the choir’s performance!
The second concert took place at the Purcell School, who performed as part of CHOGM 2018 and raised funds for the Hurricane Appeal from two spectacular Commonwealth concerts in St James’s Church, Piccadilly and St George’s, Hanover Square. The choir gave a brilliant lunchtime concert, and then met young people from the Purcell School who will be coming to help with musical projects in Antigua and Barbuda in February 2019. Lots of new friendships were formed over lunch!
The final concert was at Bowmansgreen Primary School whose magnificent fundraising efforts were greatly appreciated by the High Commissioner and the choir members. The children sang a special song written by a 16-year-old composer called Elissa Street about Hurricane Irma. Everyone loved the song.
At the end of each concert, the High Commissioner thanked everyone warmly and invited us all to come and visit Antigua and Barbuda!
“I want to encourage our young people to create a concert that is so dynamic and exciting that the audience won’t even think about looking down at their programmes!”
Aidan Goetzee, Head of Music Technology at the Commonwealth’s oldest specialist Music School
TCR’s Commonwealth celebrations for CHOGM 2018 came to a spectacular conclusion at St James’s Church, Piccadilly on Friday 20th April, hosted by TCR itself in collaboration with the Purcell School and many musical partners from all over the Commonwealth!
The young musicians and dancers worked very hard indeed for months beforehand, composing pieces, researching Commonwealth music, auditioning, choreographing dances and preparing sound tracks for this unique event.
SOUND, IMAGE, MOVEMENT – THE HIGHLIGHTS!
Before the event, we were all dazzled by the Ardvreck School Pipers who travelled all the way down from Scotland to perform in this event. These young people were all under the age of 13, and their accomplished piping brought tears to many eyes. They ‘framed’ the concert – processing in at the beginning, down the aisle to the front of the church and then out again at the end, bring it all to a close.
To follow the Ardvreckian Pipers, everyone’s ears were turned inside-out by the huge sound of 53 drummers, performing again their spectacular performance “Rotary and the Commonwealth, Drumming for Peace”, featuring expert sub groups – Chenda Drummers from India and drummers from Ghana and Botswana.
Billy Watmon, Sky TV’s Guitar Star Finalist, performed a fascinating new piece inspired by the sounds from the rainforest. This was followed by songs and music written by young people, influenced by the musical cultures of India, Cyprus, Aboriginal Australia and the Caribbean.
After the interval, there was a stunning performance by the Bearfoot Dance Company, including young dancers from different cultural backgrounds performing a new piece composed specially for them by 16-year-old Abigail James.
Botswana’s dancers and musicians, directed by Lorraine Lionheart, were so engaging and colourful that all eyes and ears were glued to them throughout. They were loudly cheered and applauded.
Sound, Image, Movement – The Commonwealth! was a genuinely cross-cultural musical feast. It was a huge success and we are hoping to run something similar for CHOGM 2020 in Rwanda!
Just before the end of the concert, it was a treat to hear Gayatri Nair (semi-finalist in ITV’s The Voice) singing a powerful gospel-style song composed by Cody Moss.
SOUND, IMAGE MOVEMENT – THE COMMONWEALTH! managed to raise over £200 for the Commonwealth Hurricane Support Fund, created to help rebuild cultural projects in Antigua and Barbuda.
Thank you to our supporters and partners…
We were enormously grateful to the immense skill and professionalism of AB Lighting from Watford, who made the performance look every bit as good as it sounded, producing spectacular colourful lighting effects to enhance every part of St James’s Church, and to give a celebratory atmosphere to the whole event.
Without the financial help and logistical support of Sree Vallipuran and Rotary in London, many of our CHOGM 2018 events, including this concert would not have been able to happen.
The concert was also sponsored by the Toby Davies Fund. Toby was a very talented, popular young bassoonist who died suddenly and tragically at the age of 16. The Purcell School has a special fund for musical enterprise, devoted to his memory.
On Thursday April 19th, The Commonwealth Resounds hosted a wonderful Commonwealth Young Musicians’ Concert in partnership with the Royal Society of St George and London Rotary. This very special concert took place at St George’s, Hanover Square in the presence of the High Commissioner of Antigua and Barbuda and distinguished guests from the RSoSG and Rotary.
There were beautiful performances from the Commonwealth Festival Orchestra, conducted by Dr James Ross and the Commonwealth Festival Choir, directed by Graham Dinnage. Another very impressive addition to this concert was the Purcell School’s pupil-led PHILOMEL Ensemble, run and directed by school pupil, Sebastian Kozub.
Everyone was very sorry that members of the Divine Symphony Orchestra in Nigeria, who were planning to come and participate in this concert did not receive their visas in time and therefore arrived in the UK too late. We all hope to be able to collaborate with the Nigerian musicians in future events of this kind.
A spectacular fanfare for strings, composed by Manish Sanga, a 12-year old Anglo-Indian composer created an ideal opening for the concert. Other highlights included exquisite Maltese pieces, arranged for strings by Michelle Paris and songs specially composed by children from texts written for them by Commonwealth poets. The Commonwealth Festival Choir sang these beautifully and movingly. ‘Common Threads’, a fascinating new piece was composed for a small string ensemble by the National Youth Orchestra’s Principal Composer, Joshua Mock.
Two wonderful pieces – Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro and Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis performed by the Commonwealth Festival Orchestra, brought this memorable concert to a close.
At the end, a collection was made to support cultural development in Antigua and Barbuda. This was one of several ‘Commonwealth Hurricane Support Concerts’ being organised by schools around the UK, supported by The Commonwealth Resounds.
During the Commonwealth Businesswomens’ Awards Ceremony in Mayfair, guests were entertained by musicians from Malta and Lorraine Lionheart, a brilliant celebrated singer and Cultural Ambassador from Botswana.
On Wednesday April 18th, The Commonwealth Resounds was delighted to be able to collaborate with Arif Zaman, Executive Director of the Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network, and create a new award for women in the arts called The Commonwealth Cultural Enterprise Award for Women in Music.
Alison Cox, TCR’s Founder and Chair of Trustees approached a number of highly distinguished musicians who nominated some wonderful, deserving women across the world to be the first recipients of this very special award.
Highly recommended were:
Sibongile Khumalo – Johannesburg, South Africa
Nelson Mandela’s favourite singer/cultural worker. She says ‘We need to do the best with our lives, and do what we can to make a difference in somebody’s life, not because we want to leave a legacy, but because we have been bequeathed a gift that we can share with others’.
Mohini Dey – Mumbai, India
Mohini is remarkable for her virtuosity as a bass player and has gone beyond the novelty of a child prodigy to a promising stretch of great musical longevity.” She seeks to create “her own music school, a powerful girls’ band and her own TV show which keeps playing good music.
The Commonwealth Cultural Enterprise Award for Women in Music was presented to Chi-chi Nwanoku for creating the life-changing Chineke! Orchestra, which has benefited so many young musicians from BME backgrounds in the UK and overseas.
‘I am delighted to have been able to collaborate with the Commonwealth Businesswomens’ Network to create this exciting new opportunity for talented, deserving women working in the arts throughout the world. The Cultural Enterprise Award for Women in the Arts will celebrate and acknowledge those who are a genuine inspiration to others, and who deserve to be recognised for their achievements. For this very first award, the focus has been on music, and the adjudicators felt that no-one deserved it more than the double bass player, Chi-chi Nwanoku. Chi-chi received it not only for her brilliance as a performing musician, but also for creating and developing the unique Chineke! Orchestra.
Alison Cox OBE FRSA
On Tuesday 17th April 2018 between 2 and 6 p.m., The Commonwealth Resounds, in association with the Royal Over-Seas League, ran what we understand to be the first-ever Commonwealth Music Forum at ROSL’s beautiful Princess Alexandra Hall.
Distinguished speakers, presenting a wide range of musical topics were introduced to a receptive audience of Commonwealth delegates by Dr. Bernard Trafford, who skilfully chaired the Forum.
Sincere thanks to Geoff Parkin, Director of Arts, Royal Overseas League for generously hosting the Forum and to Helena Clarke, our brilliant volunteer Commonwealth Music Forum Manager!
Click here for a link to the programme of events for the Commonwealth Music
“It was a real pleasure to take part in the first Commonwealth Music Forum. Congratulations for making it happen and for the impeccable organisation of this event”.
Benoit Machuel, General Secretary, International Federation of
“An honour to be there!”
Kuljit Bhamra OBE, Composer, Record Producer and Musician
The Commonwealth Resounds ran an ambitious, exciting programme of musical activities during CHOGM week (16 th – 20 th April 2018) and received many accolades from those who attended the performances and events.
The Meeting of the CHOGM Forums – Tuesday 17th April
The Commonwealth Resounds collaborated with Rotary London to create a spectacular drumming performance, directed by the brilliant, charismatic Kevin Hathway and performed to almost 2,000 Commonwealth Delegates from the Youth, Business, People’s and Women’s Forums at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster.
The 58 performers representing almost every country in the Commonwealth included drummers from Ghana and other parts of Africa led by Abass Doodo, Indian Chenda drummers from the India High Commission’s Nehru Centre, drummers and dancers from Botswana directed by Lorraine Lionheart, drummers from Rotary London secured by Sri Vallipuram and young drummers from many different Commonwealth backgrounds from The Purcell School for Young Musicians in Hertfordshire.
‘We were honoured to have The Commonwealth Resounds perform as part of this event….I was enormously impressed with the energy and impact of the performance”
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the U.N.
“Before the speeches began, the inclusive character of the Commonwealth was show-cased by The Commonwealth Resounds! group of musicians from all 53 countries performing together, many of them draped in the flags of their respective nation, singing and playing their instruments, their faces wreathed in smiles”.
Victoria Schofield, Editorial Board Member, The Round Table