Natasha Senanayake wins
Commonwealth Music Competition Glasgow 2014

To mark and celebrate Commonwealth Games Glasgow 2014, the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra & Choir, in partnership with the Commonwealth Games Federation, Commonwealth Youth Council, Commonwealth Students Association, Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace, Commonwealth Broadcasting Association and the Commonwealth Secretariat, has held the first ever Commonwealth Music Competition. 

Song writers from all 53 countries of The Commonwealth were invited to submit a music composition inspired by the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra’s Music Partnership’s theme: Music for Peace & Development.

The 27-year old musician from Sri Lanka, Natasha Senanayake, has been named winner of the Commonwealth Music Competition Glasgow 2014 and her “Song for The Commonwealth” was one of the five finalists which were short-listed from over 4,000 Commonwealth Music Competition Glasgow 2014 entries. View here.

HE President of Malta presenting prize to the Winner of the Commonwealth Music Competition 2014, Ms Natasha Senanayake, at Marlborough House on 11 March 2015.

There were entries from all regions of The Commonwealth and in all styles and music genres. The panel was made up of senior professional musicians who judged each entry without knowing the name of the entrant or their nationality.

The Commonwealth Music Competition Glasgow 2014 shortlist of five finalists included Ndururumo High School from Kenya; Advocates for Peace from Nigeria; Giselle E. O’Brien from Trinidad; Vanessa Quai from Vanuatu.

There was a People’s Vote on the five finalists which was open to all and over 4 days in early June 2014 there were 10,400 People’s Votes. The Winner of the People’s Vote was Advocates of Peace from Nigeria.

Natasha Senanayake said about her winning competition entry: “This song describes the coming together of nations, political, and religious differences aside, for a common purpose; in this case the Commonwealth Games. This song was written from the heart and stands as an example of the marriage of cultures, demonstrating how love, peace and mutual respect can be fostered through an opportunity for competition and collaboration”.

Natasha Senanayake, having written the winning entry, will now receive the prize of a recording contract, a Commonwealth Gala Concert performance of the winning music in Commonwealth Week 2015 and a 12-month role as a “Commonwealth Music Ambassador” which will commence from March 2015.

The results of the Commonwealth Music Competition Glasgow 2014 were announced and live-streamed across The Commonwealth at a Commonwealth Gala Concert in Glasgow on Monday 23 June 2014, one month before the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games Glasgow 2014.
The announcement was made by the Scottish composer Rory Boyle, who is Professor of Composition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow.

In April 2014, on the occasion of the launch of the Commonwealth Music Competition Glasgow 2014, the then Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Mrs Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba commented on the importance of listening to and engaging with the Youth of the Commonwealth and added:

“Music and sport are valuable vehicles for promoting peace and development in the world. The Commonwealth Music Competition Glasgow 2014 is an excellent example of how The Commonwealth can engage young people’s creativity and innovation, whilst also contributing to an improving of international cultural understanding."


Natasha Senanayake was born in Colombo in Sri Lanka in 1987 and is currently working as a free-lance composer and music director in Sri Lanka. She is continuing a family tradition of professional musicianship – her relatives, including her great grandfather and great-great grandfather, have been professional musicians, composers and music teachers.

Natasha graduated from Converse College, United States with a Bachelor of Music, with distinction and then gained a postgraduate Master of Music (Composition) degree at King’s College, London.

She currently lives and works in Sri Lanka and in addition to her work as a composer she is a Choir Director and music teacher
Natasha has a comprehensive list of music works to her name and they are in various music genres: world music, film, contemporary classical, choral, pop and music theatre.

Entries to The Commonwealth Music Competition Glasgow 2014 could be written in any style, type or genre and could be for any combination or size of group of instruments and/or voices.

Each entrant was also required to write 500 words about the importance of music in their community.  Here are extracts from each of the five finalists’ submissions about the importance of music in their community:

Ndururumo High School from Kenya;
Music also can be used to preserve the culture of a community ,for instance in our community we value music more than anything ,since it reminds us of  our source ,where we came from  and guide us on which way to go .It also unite us, as one people and we believe that music is part of our daily life .So life without music is nothing but misery and devoid.

Advocates for Peace from Nigeria;
“We must stress that music has always remained a medium of communication and the food for the soul. Our immediate communities can hardly survive without music, hence the importance of music to our individual and corporate existence.”

Natasha Senanayake from Sri Lanka:
As one of the only female composers of Sri Lanka, my work is deeply entrenched in my roots. My education in the USA and England has enhanced my understanding of music and has brought a wealth of other influences to my compositions. Through the numerous opportunities I have had to travel and soak in different sounds and cultures, I have always encountered one common truth; the escape and peace that people find through music, regardless of status, wealth, or power, brings all individuals a sense of clarity. I would like to embrace the opportunity to use music to spark higher collaboration within the Commonwealth community.

Giselle E. O’Brien from Trinidad;
Perhaps the most important role of music however, lies in the opportunity for people with disabilities to express themselves freely and without judgment, allowing them to feel like part of the greater society who “can” instead of an out-casted group of people who “can’t”.  Through music performance, people with disabilities gain self-confidence, experience self-expression and may develop a genuine interest in music.  This renewed sense of expression and self can propel them forward, encouraging them to express themselves in other ways, such as through art or dance, or academia, and to believe that they too can celebrate achievements and contribute to society. 

Vanessa Quai from Vanuatu.
I believe Music is a powerful tool to Unite different people from everywhere, coming together to experience peace and love for each other and builds a good communication of a human soul to another human soul. For my country and my community, I see Music really does unite my people. We have 80 different islands in our nation and 84 different languages from each islands and its own villages. We don’t understand each other by our different cultures, or even speak the same language. But with Music we all communicate and harmonise with each other. Music doesn’t cause hatred, but causes, peace and love from all of us in my community. Our hearts follow the beat of the Music, doesn’t matter if it’s a secular song, or a gospel song. it just brings pleasure to our feelings and our ears. In my community, the way our people relate with music, is quite different, they like to listen and observe and like a music icon to blow them away with their talents and the style of music. Music makes my people Happy, and dance! it’s like Music is the key to take away their stressful issues, or depression and all other adversity in life. Music is very important for my Community because it encourages young people to develop their own interests of pursuing music or other dreams in life!

Details of winning competition entry recording

Composer - Natasha Senanayake
Lyrics - Natasha Senanayake, Anushka Senanayake and P. M. Haigh
Singers - Natasha Senanayake, Anushka Senanayake and Afrah Saldin
Instrumentalists - Natasha Senanayake (Piano, strings and orchestration), Dilan Rachitha (Tabla), Nishan Daniel (Bass)
Backing vocals - Evolution (some members of a local choir)
Producer - Hit Factory Studio (Fife road, Colombo 5, Sri Lanka)
Engineer - Nishan Daniel
Place - Hit Factory Studio (Fife road, Colombo 5, Sri Lanka)