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About the Commonwealth Carnival of Music

Westminster_Hall_BN001 Houses of Parliametn

The Commonwealth Carnival of Music - a joyous celebration of music and dance with a Commonwealth theme - took place on Monday 2nd July 2012 in Westminster Hall, inside the Houses of Parliament, as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations for Her Majesty The Queen, the Commonwealth Year of Culture and the Cultural Olympiad.

This spectacular event was the result of a collaboration between diverse groups of volunteers, performers and sponsors and was staged in association with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (UK Branch) and Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.

Connecting Cultures

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 countries supporting each other and working together towards shared goals in democracy and development. The 2012 Commonwealth theme was 'Connecting Cultures' which provided a wonderful opportunity, in the Diamond Jubilee year, to celebrate the cultural diversity of the 54 member states. You can find out more about the Commonwealth and its 54 members by visiting the website of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (UK Branch) is one of over 175 branches of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the parliamentary arm of the Commonwealth, which enables UK parliamentarians to liaise with fellow parliamentarians across the Commonwealth.

Connecting Cultures Theme

The Carnival marked the influence of the Mother of Parliaments” and the spread of the positive aspects of the Parliamentary system throughout the Commonwealth by bringing people together from all around the world to celebrate in music and song. The Speakers of both Houses of Parliament and the Lord Great Chamberlain gave their approval for it to take place in the glorious setting of Westminster Hall, which can be considered as the place where our democratic system of government first saw the light of day.

Llangollen International Eisteddfod

The famous Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, whose motto is “Blessed is a world that sings, Gentle are its songs”, was formed in 1947, offering the world a platform to come together under the flag of music and dance following the aftermath of the Second World War. The competition aims to promoting peace, harmony and understanding by enabling people of all nations to meet and communicate through the international language of music.

Llangollen International Eisteddfod
Llangollen Winners 2011

This prestigious competition for amateur and professional performers alike, takes over the beautiful Welsh town of Llangollen for six days every July.  It has become a gold-standard event, attracting some of the best choirs and dancers from all over the world. Over 4000 performers take to the stage each year, entering 25 different competitions, many dreaming of reaching the Choir of the World competition where winning choirs compete for the Pavarotti Trophy. 

Six decades since it first began,  Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod is still predominantly organised by a committed team of volunteers. Its core values remain as strong as ever and in 2004 it received the great honour of being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Commonwealth Carnival

The Carnival aimed to bring together all these themes and aspirations within one spectacular event. Some of the outstanding Commonwealth choirs and dancers on their way to the festival at Llangollen, as well as the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra, the Parliament Choir and a number of other talented performers with Commonwealth links were invited to take part.

Diamond Jubilee

Surplus funds from this incredible event have gone towards providing a legacy fund to be used, in part, to help under privileged performers from anywhere in the world, who would otherwise be denied the opportunity to take part in the Eisteddfod.

This was truly a unique event supported by HRH Prince Charles who sent a personal letter which was read out during the performance by Lord Watson of Richmond.

For more information about this event and the Commonwealth Carnival of Music Charity please contact us.

The Audience

High Commissioners, Lords and MPs were joined in an international audience by people from all regions of the UK, especially musically talented young people and unsung heroes.

It was not possible to buy tickets to this unique event. All tickets were FREE and places made available to charitable organisations, community groups, schools, colleges, NHS staff and members of the Armed Forces.

Lord Lieutenant Nominees

It was our aim that every part of the United Kingdom be represented in the audience.  We therefore wrote to all the Lord-Lieutenants around the nation asking for their help in nominating four representatives to become part of the audience at Westminster Hall. Each Lord Lieutenant was asked to nominate:

>   One young performer, aged between 16 and 21
>   One “unsung local hero” as yet unrecognised for their contribution to the community

Diamond Jubilee Window
Lord Lieutenant Nominees Lord Lieutenant Nominees Commonwealth Carnival 2012

Westminster Hall

Westminster Hall is the oldest existing part of the Palace of Westminster and was built in the year 1097 at which time it was the largest hall in Europe. It has the largest clearspan medieval roof in England and two stained glass windows to the north and south of the hall, which were originally provided by Henry VIII.  Over the centuries the windows have been  re-designed and replaced several times.

Diamond Jubilee Window

On display in the hall during the Commonwealth Carnival was a beautiful new stained glass window, a gift from members of both Houses of Parliament to her Majesty the Queen in celebrate her Diamond Jubilee.  It was designed and made by British artist, John Reyntiens, working with a dedicated and experienced team of draftsmen, painters and technicians in his studio.

Diamond Jubilee Window

Also on  display around the walls of the hall were a number of hand crafted textile murals.

Since the millennium, Creative Peace Mural Society have worked with communities in New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Switzerland, Canada, Uruguay, Ukraine, Coast Salish, Uganda, Japan and China on 11 textile murals as part of their “Hands Around The World” project.

In celebration of the Olympic year, Arts in Parliament, in collaboration with Creative Peace Mural Society, brought together the full collection of murals for the first time -  in Westminster Hall. Each piece featured landscapes from around the world surrounded by a border made up of handprints from local participants involved in their community project.

Northern Ireland Hands Around the World Mural

Commonwealth Carnival of Music Performers

These murals are all local art projects and draw upon values and themes important to each community.

During 2012 a new piece was created in Northern Ireland which embodied the Olympic and Paralympic values of truce, friendship and respect.

The Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod attracts some of the best choirs, dancers and performers from all over the world. A selection of 2012’s best Commonwealth performers were invited to perform in The Commonwealth Carnival of Music at Westminster Hall, including choirs from Canada, South Africa and Australia and a dance troupe from India.

In addition, others who were invited to complete the line-up included the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra, Ngāti Rānana Maori Choir who brought the Haka to Westminster, a 100 strong combined Welsh Male Voice Choir and The Watoto Children’s Choir (an award winning and inspirational choir from a  programme in Uganda which cares for orphaned children.) There was also be a rare opportunity to see The Parliament Choir whose members include Lords, MPs and other members of Westminster Staff.

Entertaining the audience on stages around the hall during the afternoon before the formal concert in our Croeso Carnival (Welcome Carnival) were BT Melodians Steel Orchestra, The Abraham Darby School Showband from Telford and The Hartley Morris Dancers. 

Our Carnival hosts were Baroness Floella Benjamin, TV Presenter, Huw Edwards and Bite The Ballot’s Michael Sani and the official proceedings were heralded by a lone bag-piper, from the Pipes and Drums of the London Scottish Regiment.

We are grateful to all our performers and volunteers who generously gave their time to make this such a memorable day.

Llangollen yn San Steffan - Llangollen comes to Westminster

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