“In changing times we stand together, for each we hold dear. The richness of our family, the strength in each we share. With every step we take as one, our path ahead is clear.”
These are lyrics from the ‘Commonwealth Song 2016 – In All We Say and All We Do’, which was sung by the Commonwealth Youth Choir at a gala performance at Marlborough House to mark the Commonwealth’s 2016 theme of inclusivity
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma and Secretary-Designate, Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, who takes over on 1 April, were treated to the Commonwealth Gala, alongside High Commissioners based in London and other dignitaries.
As he passed a conductor’s baton to his successor, Mr Sharma congratulated the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra and Choir, whose members hail from the association’s 53 member countries, for their stunning performances. “How well that spirit of inclusiveness is represented here,” he said.
“In the end there is nothing that distinguishes the Commonwealth more than the fact that it leaves no-one behind, argues the case for leaving no-one behind, and fights for leaving no-one behind,” Mr Sharma said.
The Commonwealth Youth Orchestra and Choir was established in 2008 by Sally Shebe, the charity’s Director-General, and today includes a children's orchestra and choir and symphony orchestra. “You have done something unique for the Commonwealth. You created something that did not exist before,” said Mr Sharma, congratulating Ms Shebe.
The Secretary-General Designate, Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, praised the “magical music” as she expressed her thanks to Mr Sharma and Ms Shebe for their “joint vision” to give young people the opportunity to sing and play songs from across the Commonwealth.
“It is a huge pleasure and privilege to hold the baton that has been passed to me by the Secretary-General,” she said. “There is much for us to do for the Secretary-General’s vision for the orchestra and choir to be fulfilled. I hope that together we will make great music, in harmony with each other.”
Ms Shebe welcomed the remarks by both the Secretary-General and Secretary-General Designate. “[Mr Sharma] has been profoundly involved with us for eight years helping with our ground-breaking work engaging, through music, with young people throughout the Commonwealth,” she said.
“The Secretary General, in his words, announced that he ‘is passing the baton to Baroness Scotland’ to continue supporting this historic initiative,” Ms Shebe added.
The "Commonwealth Song 2016 – In All We Say and All We Do" was composed by Major Simon Haw MBE, Director of Music of the Coldstream Guards Band. It will be made available as a free download in June 2016.
The gala event was introduced by Nick Holme, one of the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra and Choir's trustees, with congratuatory remarks offered by its chairman, Professor David Rowland. The night saw performances by Natasha Senanayake, Ricard Rovirosa and Hui-Ti Wang, among others. Performances were conducted by British composer Paul Carroll, Artistic Director and Composer-in-Residence.
The Commonwealth Gala followed an announcement by the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra and Choir earlier this week to establish a Commonwealth Music Council, which will curate music from across the association’s 53 member countries. The initiative will see the establishment of a new music library which will be freely available to all for research, performance and education programmes. Find out more
The Commonwealth Secretary-General Designate was born in Dominica and was the country’s candidate at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta last November. She will be the second Secretary-General from the Caribbean and the first woman to hold the post.