HM The Queen

In The Queen’s Christmas Message 2017, Her Majesty said “The Commonwealth has an inspiring way of bringing people together and the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra and Choir is a reminder of how truly vibrant this international family is.”

“I personally regard the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra and Choir as one of the jewels in the Commonwealth crown and should be 'on display' at every opportunity!”
The Rt Hon. the Lord Howell of Guildford President, Royal Commonwealth Society and Chairman, Council of Commonwealth Societies

"Director-General, Sally Shebe is a Commonwealth Pioneer - with courage and determination she has delivered the extraordinary achievements and ground-breaking work of the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra & Choir, with an unique vision of using the soft power of music as a means of international dialogue throughout all 53 countries of the Commonwealth."
His Excellency Kamalesh Sharma Commonwealth Secretary-General (2008-2016)

“It is a huge pleasure and privilege to hold the baton that has been passed to me by the Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma. There is much for us to do for the Secretary-General’s vision for the orchestra and choir and I hope that together we will make great music, in harmony with each other.”
The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC Commonwealth Secretary-General (2016 - )


The Commonwealth Youth Orchestra and Choir (CYO) is the first and only full-time music organisation which works 24/7, 52 weeks a year, exclusively throughout the 53 Commonwealth Nations, and with the unanimous endorsement of all Commonwealth Heads of Government.

Culture builds bridges and this is extensively and pervasively demonstrated by CYO through its international, trans-racial engagement and as a model of actual “Engaged Diversity” in action.

Its unique major cross-borders initiative, The Commonwealth Music Partnership – Music for Peace & Development, unites all choirs, orchestras and music schools in the Commonwealth for fully-funded pan-Commonwealth exchange, collaboration and engagement.

Key moments in the Commonwealth calendar, including the 2009 Diamond Jubilee of the Commonwealth, the 2012 Diamond Jubilee of HM The Queen and the Biennial Meetings of the Commonwealth Heads of Government, are marked in a highly visible way with major CYO performances and recordings.

On 17 April 2018 the CYO released a special, non-commercial CD “City of London”, which has been produced with the support of The City of London Corporation.

The CYO’s “City of London” CD was launched at a Banquet, which was hosted by the City of London Corporation, held on the occasion of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting London 2018.

The Commonwealth Children’s Choir, conducted by Major Simon Haw MBE, performed “To Be A Friend”, a special song written to welcome the Commonwealth Heads of Government to their meeting in London on 19 April 2018.

After their performance the Commonwealth Children’s Choir, with conductor Major Simon Haw MBE and Director-General, Sally Shebe, were presented to distinguished guests including:

  • The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Charles Bowman
  • His Excellency The President of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa
  • The Rt Hon the Baroness Scotland QC, Commonwealth Secretary-General
  • The Rt Hon Philip Hammond, MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer of the British Government
  • City Remembrancer Paul Double, LVO


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    In April 2018 the CYO released a special, non-commercial CD “A Song For Malta”, which has been produced, with the support of the Government of Malta, to mark and celebrate the Commonwealth Chair-in-Office 2015-2018, of the Prime Minister of Malta, The Hon Dr Joseph Muscat KUOM.



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    On International Day of Peace Wednesday 21 September 2016, the CYO launched an important and ground-breaking internet platform which is the CYO’s Commonwealth Music Hub. A new central CYO music hub website and six independent linked CYO satellite websites, to give huge visibility to the CYO’s major programmes for delivering its mission. The Hub Graphic is shown below.

    Since September 2016 CYO’s seven websites have been rolled out over an initial 18-month period, the first stage culminating in April 2018 at which point an expansive internet platform has now been created - a space, going forward, for engagement, education, visibility and connectivity across the 53 Nations that are the 21st century Commonwealth.

    Commonwealth Music Partnership

    Commonwealth Music Council

    Commonwealth Community Heritage

    Commonwealth Music Competitions

    Commonwealth Music Company

    Commonwealth Music Distance Learning

    On Commonwealth Day Monday 12 March 2018, the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra and Choir launched a new song: “To Be A Friend”. This special song, which is dedicated to Her Majesty The Queen, Head of The Commonwealth, was especially commissioned by The Commonwealth Youth Orchestra and Choir to welcome the Commonwealth Heads of Government attending their biennial meeting in London, April 2018.

    “To Be A Friend” was given its world-premiere performance, in Whitehall, London, by 400 members of The Commonwealth Children’s Choir and The Band of the Coldstream Guards, conducted by Commonwealth Music Ambassador, Major Simon Haw MBE.

    “To Be A Friend” was performed at Buckingham Palace on Thursday 19 April 2018 to welcome the Commonwealth Heads of Government on their arrival at the Opening Ceremony of their Biennial Meeting, which was formally opened by Her Majesty The Queen, Head of The Commonwealth.



    ”To Be A Friend” - Words and music by Major Simon Haw MBE.

    Recorded by 53 members of The Commonwealth Children’s Choir and The Band of the Coldstream Guards, conducted by Major Simon Haw MBE.

    This recording was made on 21 February 2018 in the Guards’ Chapel, London SW1, with the kind permission of Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Dunwoody, Senior Chaplain to the Household Division.

    Crown copyright ©

    Commonwealth Music Partnership Commonwealth Music Competitions Commonwealth Music Commonwealth Music Council Commonwealth Community Heritage Commonwealth Music Company Commonwealth Music Distance Learning