Antigua and Barbuda Day 1

Today was an exciting day for the 21 musicians travelling to Antigua with The Commonwealth Resounds, an organisation dedicated to the promotion of music and musicians across the Commonwealth, as we set off on a cultural exchange to the captivating island of Antigua.

Our day kicked off at Gatwick Airport, with the group meeting in person for the first time, full of anticipation and excitement. Instruments in hand and spirits buoyed, we were primed to embark on our adventure. We would like to pause to thank British Airways for their help getting all our instruments onto the plane.

On touching down in Antigua, we were greeted by Claudine and Karen Mae, The High Commissioner of Antigua. Their warmth and hospitality radiated through the welcome, we’re very grateful for their warm welcome and look forward to sharing our musical cultures.

The pace immediately picked up as our wind quintet was ushered to Pointe 99.1fm, where we had the opportunity to join the Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, on his well-known evening programme, Browne and Browne. Alison and Reuben spoke at length on the station about our plans and excitement whilst we are here. Discussing all things music with Colin O’Neil the conversation was positive and he really emphasised the power that music can bring to all our lives, be that academic, social or just for our own pleasure. It was amazing to hear about all the musical opportunities that the island offers and shares with the world. This platform offered us more than just an introduction to Antiguan society; it was a precious opportunity to share our musical passion with the nation.

With the group struggling to fit into the studio. Our wind quintet, just one small component of The Commonwealth Resounds group, enchanted listeners with a captivating Disney medley.

As the programme closed, we were introduced to King Goldie, a Barbudan who plays a fabulous home-made instrument. Using waste materials he created a banjo like instrument out of a butter tin and shaft of wood found nearby, a wonderful way to use music as an environmental power for good. He performed the popular redemption song to which the entire studio sang along with joy.

Prime minister, Gastone Browne, thanking the group for their performance just hours after stepping off the flight from London.

During the programme, the Prime Minister spoke about his support for the arts, a sentiment that was heartening to hear. The arts are a bedrock of any society, and knowing they hold a place in the island’s leadership discussions underscored the significance of our cultural exchange.

We’ve hit the ground running with our cultural exchange. The maiden day perfectly encapsulated the mission of The Commonwealth Resounds. It showcased the power of music and culture to build bridges, foster understanding, and resonate with the shared spirit of humanity. The warm reception we’ve received matched the weather and the evident appreciation for the arts have set the tone for what promises to be a deeply enriching journey ahead.