The soft power of the Commonwealth was very much in evidence earlier this month when the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra and Children’s Choir delivered a sterling performance at Buckingham Palace before HM Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth.
The performance was part of the celebration of the Centenary of the Association of Commonwealth Universities. It also marked 40 years of the Commonwealth Youth Programme.
Engaging and empowering young people as agents of change is an area in which the Commonwealth places a particularly high premium. The power of young people, the Commonwealth’s largest demographic, gives it considerable influence and soft power.
Representing every country of the Commonwealth, the orchestra and choir engaged the captivated guests with their stirring performance. Under the direction of Artistic Director and Composer-in-Residence, Maestro Paul Carroll, they fittingly opened the performance with the Commonwealth Anthem.
The Commonwealth Youth Orchestra and Choir, through its Commonwealth Music Partnership, links music schools, orchestras and choirs across the Commonwealth. Its Director-General, Sally Shebe, said: “Our mission is to use music as a means of international dialogue, which knows no boundaries.”
Guests at the occasion included celebrated professors from universities across the Commonwealth, who were in London for the two-day Centenary of the Association of Commonwealth Universities. Established in 1913, the association is the world’s first and oldest international university network.
Guests also included the 2013 Commonwealth Youth Award winners - professionals working in youth development. They were joined by the inspirational sixteen-year old, Malala Yusufzai from Pakistan, now internationally known for championing girls’ rights to education.
Katherine Ellis, Director of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Youth Affairs Division, said: “It’s fantastic that these young people from around the Commonwealth, and key partners of the Commonwealth Youth Programme, could meet in such a wonderful setting to share and celebrate their ideas and work.”