Spotlight on ABRSM partnerships: The Commonwealth Resounds

1 year ago

At ABRSM we work with lots of fantastic organisations around the world to open up opportunities for people to access and progress in music. Throughout 2022 we will be shining a light on our partnership activities, and first up is our work with The Commonwealth Resounds, an organisation that connects musical cultures and promotes initiatives across Commonwealth countries.

In March 2022, a lucky audience gathered at London’s Royal Over-Seas League to hear live performances of inspirational new music by ten young composers from around the world.

This was the final of the 2022 Commonwealth International Composition Award (CICA), a competition organised by The Commonwealth Resounds to encourage young people from diverse backgrounds to discover and develop their musical creativity through composition. As a founding sponsor of the award and partner of The Commonwealth Resounds, we were delighted to be there.

Of the ten finalists, six attended the final in person while four, including overall winner Devon Packer, tuned in to the livestream. Devon, from Canada, took the top prize from adjudicators Orphy Robinson, Barbara Law and Sylvia Lim for his piece, …reaching… , scored for cello, violin, percussion and flute.

Other winners were Jacob Abela, who received the Audience Prize for Kaleidoscope, and Felix Penna who was awarded the Young Adjudicators Award for Sdrijn.

In the run up to the final, all ten shortlisted composers benefited from mentoring from advanced students at the Royal Northern College of Music, and as one of the composers on the Young Adjudicator panel commented, all finalists were winners!

For Devon, taking part in the competition has helped him to take his composing to a new level. “In ...reaching… I feel I have written a piece in my own style,” he explains. “I worked hard to ensure that every single instrument had a rhythmic and a melodic purpose, with a particular focus on percussion, which doesn’t often feature as prominently in classical compositions.”

Listen to all ten shortlisted pieces, including the winning three, here:

Since 2019 CICA has helped hundreds of young people around the world to develop their musical creativity and composition skills – something that continued through the pandemic with initiatives such as Go Compose Online.

The Commonwealth Resounds founder and chair Alison Cox believes passionately in the importance of composition for young people, with its potential to “enhance wellbeing and confidence and assimilate musical skills learned through the study of an instrument or theory of music.” She adds, “We are delighted by the success of CICA and have followed the careers of our young shortlisted composers with the greatest of interest.”

For Executive Director of Strategic Development, Lincoln Abbotts, the organisation and CICA in particular stand out for “opening up opportunities for young people around the world to compose their own music, share it with friends, families and the public, and experience first-hand the joy that music brings.”

Congratulations from everyone at ABRSM to all the young composers who participated in CICA over the last year. We wish them the very best with their continued musical adventures.

You can watch the CICA final here and find out more about Commonwealth Resounds at



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