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Please join the Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce for a webinar on the astounding Power of Music as a Commonwealth Language. The webinar will take place online via Zoom on 6 September 2022 at 5 pm Hong Kong Time/ 10 am BST.

About the Event

Music is a universal language that brings the Commonwealth nations closer together. Evoking emotions that even spoken language may not be able to elucidate. The Commonwealth Chamber is delighted to be joined by the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra and Choir’s Composer in Residence, Simon Haw for our online event where Simon will be sharing the hows and whys  of music compositions in a diverse international context and Commonwealth narrative.  We’ll also discuss the next steps heralding an era of digital symphonic music and a real life experience of  the significance of music in bringing the nations together to celebrate their diversity, in unison.

It is not surprising that the global and Commonwealth music industries have been amongst the most dynamic growing industries worldwide. In 2021, the international recorded music market grew by 18.5%, adding up revenues to a total of US$25.9 billion and it is expected that the industry will continue to grow at a high CAGR rate of 8.5% with revenues reaching US53.2 billion as estimated by Goldman Sachs. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an accelerating factor for the increase in online music sales via streaming which now comprises 65% of the total music industry revenues, largely due to the immense spike in online content creation.

According to the International Federation of Phonographic Industry (IFPI), record companies are seeking local artists and music from less mature and high-potential markets across Asia, Latin America and Africa as vibrant drivers of growth in the global music ecosystem. The Apple-owned app Shazam, for example, has recently released a national Top 200 charts in 17 new countries across Asia and Africa with a large percentage of these countries being Commonwealth nations including Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia all of which are creating new and high-spirited music trending across the globe. Interestingly, global research supports the claim that appetite for world and classical music is growing, especially amongst the youth that have begun to rediscover blasts from the past which they are now including in virtual creative projects on platforms such as TikTok and Instagram. Industry wise, the demand for atmospheric and classical music for films and documentaries is also uptrending, which is especially the case for the well-established and leading film producing Commonwealth nations like Nigeria, India and the United Kingdom.

In this global context, the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra and Choir (CYO), which remains the first and only full-time music organisation in the world that works across 6 continents, is an exemplary platform that creates beautiful music incorporating the unique and diverse qualities of the Commonwealth nations such as by using the nation’s national anthems in their compositions. The CYO is also an impactful platform for the education of music for youth, offering scholarships and intra-Commonwealth workshops via the Commonwealth Music Academy and Commonwealth Music Competitions. In this post-pandemic era of digitalisation, the CYO is in the position to utilise the technological advancements of today to become a perfect and balanced mix of traditional orchestral and choral music composition and the futuristic world of online live music and genre mixing that is now possible through platforms like Meta.

About the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra and Choir

In 2009, in the year of the Diamond Jubilee of The Commonwealth, the registered music charity, the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra and Choir was established as a Diamond Jubilee legacy initiative, with a mission “to use music as a means of international dialogue knowing no boundaries”.

In 2011 the Eminent Persons Group (EPG), which had been convened to suggest ways in which The Commonwealth could be improved and become more effective, wrote for is 47th point of 106 recommendations, that the Commonwealth Heads of Government should support the establishment of the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra and Choir. When this EPG Report was presented to the Commonwealth Heads at the CHOGM held in Perth Australia in November 2011, this recommendation was unanimously agreed and was published in the Final Communique.  This unique endorsement of all the Commonwealth Heads of Government was hugely encouraging for everyone working to develop this unique music organisation.

In 2012 Her Majesty The Queen, Head of The Commonwealth, gave an unique honour to the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra by offering to be “Diamond Jubilee Patron 2012”.  During 2012 the CYO performed on 20 occasions in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen.

The Commonwealth Youth Orchestra and Choir (CYO) is the first, and remains the only, full-time music organisation in the world, which works exclusively across 6 continents and throughout all 56 Commonwealth Nations. The CYO continues to work tirelessly to deliver its mission of “using music as a means of international dialogue, knowing no boundaries”, through its three-point plan “Engage-Educate-Empower”, and creating opportunities for engaged diversity in action.

The CYO has launched several initiatives to expand its operations across the 56 nations of the Commonwealth; in 2012 the Commonwealth Music Partnership was launched to provide fully-funded programmes for international education and exchanges in music. In 2016, the Commonwealth Music Council was launched to gather the musical heritages of all the nations to curate a musical library for research and educational programmes. The CYO has been dedicated to provide scholarships and funded opportunities for the musically talented Commonwealth citizens to actualise their performance and recording potential through initiatives including the Commonwealth Scholars’ Choir, the Commonwealth Children’s Orchestra and Choir, Commonwealth Music Distance Learning, and Commonwealth Music Competitions.

Most recently, the CYO’s Commonwealth Music Academy was officially launched on 7 February 2022, as a legacy initiative to mark and celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.  The Commonwealth Music Academy will provide fully-funded on-line music workshops and residential opportunities for performance and recording for musicians in all 56 countries of The Commonwealth.

The achievements and contributions of the CYO were most adequately expressed in The Queen’s Christmas Message of 2017 wherein she 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.”


Simon Haw MBE

Simon Haw MBE; Composer in Residence, Commonwealth Orchestras and Choirs

Simon’s thirty four years in the British Army culminated in 2022, as Lieutenant Colonel, Commanding Officer of the Bands of the Household Division, which delivers the music of State for all ceremonial occasions in London. He has been Director of Music of many bands of the Royal Corp of Army Music, including Coldstream Guards Band and Scots Guards Band.

Composition is at the heart of Simon’s work. In 2017 he composed Passchendaele, used by the BBC for its live broadcast of the 100th anniversary event, for which the BBC production team received a BAFTA Award 2018.

Simon was commissioned by Commonwealth Music to compose a major work for choir and orchestra, Earth Dance – A Cantata in Six Parts, to mark the Biennial Meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, April 2018.  In the same month at Cadogan Hall in London, Simon’s Trumpet Call was given its world-premiere by soloist Alan Hughes, Principal Trumpet of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.  The latter half of 2018 was committed to the composition of Cenotaph Requiem, written to mark the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War I – Cenotaph Requiem was world-premiered and recorded by the Commonwealth Scholars’ Choir, Commonwealth Children’s Choir and the Orchestra of the Household Division.

Amongst his latest work is Regina, written in February 2021, to mark the Ninety-Fifth Anniversary of the Birthday of Her Majesty the Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, in the seventieth year of Her Majesty’s reign. Green Canopy, a twelve movement work for solo violin and orchestra composed on Autumn 2021, was world premiered and released in March 2022 performed by Eric Hui-Ti Wang, Concert Master of the Commonwealth Orchestra with the Orchestra of the Household Division.

Simon has been Composer in Residence for the Commonwealth Orchestras and Choirs since 2018. In 2022, Simon was awarded a BAFTA in the British Academy Television Crafts Awards, for his compositions on the BBC production of the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance, broadcast from the Royal Albert Hall in 2021.


Julia Charlton; Chairman, Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce

Julia is the Chairman of the Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. She is the founding and managing partner of Charltons, an award-winning Hong Kong corporate finance law firm. Julia is admitted as a solicitor in Hong Kong, England, Wales and the BVI. She practises in the field of corporate finance, including M&A, private equity, securities, virtual assets and funds.

Julia has extensive experience in venture capital as well as blockchain, fintech and cryptocurrency. Her capital markets fund raising experience extends from startups to major IPOs on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.