HM The Queen

“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.”
Her Majesty The Queen, Head of The Commonwealth,
The Queen’s Christmas Message 2017

“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 remains the only, full-time music organisation in the world which works 24/7, 52 weeks a year, exclusively throughout the 53 Commonwealth Nations.

The CYO has received an unique, specific and unanimous endorsement from all the Commonwealth Heads of Government, which was published in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Final Communique following their 2011 Meeting in Perth, Australia.

“Culture builds bridges” - this is extensively and pervasively demonstrated by the CYO through its international, trans-racial engagement and as a model of actual “Engaged Diversity” in action, including its unique major cross-borders initiative, The Commonwealth Music Partnership – Music for Peace & Development, which unites all choirs, orchestras and music schools in the Commonwealth for fully-funded pan-Commonwealth exchange, collaboration and engagement.

With Her Majesty The Queen, Head of The Commonwealth, as its Diamond Jubilee Patron, the CYO continues to work tirelessly to deliver its mission of “using music as a means of international dialogue, knowing no boundaries”, through it three-point plan “Engage-Educate-Empower”.

For The Queen’s Christmas Message 2017, Her Majesty graciously invited members of the CYO to perform on this very special programme, which was broadcast throughout the United Kingdom and across all the Commonwealth Nations on 25 December 2017.

Key moments in the Commonwealth calendar - including 2009 Diamond Jubilee of The Commonwealth, 2012 Diamond Jubilee of HM The Queen and the Biennial Meetings of the Commonwealth Heads of Government, are marked by the CYO with major performances and recordings featuring musicians, choirs and composers from across The Commonwealth.

To mark the occasion of the Biennial Meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government in London in April 2108, the CYO, featuring its Commonwealth Scholars’ Choir and Commonwealth Children’s Choir, produced a trilogy of non-commercial recordings with the Ceremonial State Band of the Coldstream Guards, conducted by Major Simon Haw MBE.

The three CDs produced for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018 feature the world-premiere recording of “Earth Dance” composed by Commonwealth Music Ambassador, Simon Haw MBE which is dedicated to HM The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth.

The CYO commissioned Simon Haw MBE to compose “Earth Dance” to mark the occasion of the Biennial Meeting of the 53 Commonwealth Heads of Government in April 2018.

The six movements of “Earth Dance” characteristically represent each of the six continents of the Commonwealth: Africa, Americas, Asia, Caribbean, Europe and Pacific. All six movements also seek to covey the values and aspirations of the Commonwealth and as such are entitled:
Engage, Unity, Respect, Diversity, Renew and Empower.

CYO’s CD “In Unity”, is dedicated to HRH Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, on his taking up his new role, on 16 April 2018, of Commonwealth Youth Ambassador. “In Unity” CD was launched at Cadogan Hall, London, on Monday 23 April 2018, in the presence of Major General B J Bathurst CBE, The Major General Commanding The Household Division.


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CYO’s CD “City of London”, made possible with the kind support of the City of London Corporation, was launched by the CYO at a Banquet hosted by the City of London Corporation, held on the occasion of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018, at which 53 Members of the Commonwealth Children’s Choir performed to an audience of 600 guests including Commonwealth Heads of Government, Commonwealth Ministers of State and the current Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC.


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CYO’s CD “A Song For Malta” was produced, with the Kind 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.

“A Song For Malta” CD was launched in London on the eve of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018 with a performance and a special message from Prime Minister of Malta Dr Muscat.


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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