This Commonwealth Day, a baton will set out from Buckingham Palace and begin a long and extraordinary journey. Over the next twelve months, the Baton will visit people living in the nations and territories of our Commonwealth family in every continent and ocean.

February and March at ROSL means it is Annual Music Competition time again! Now in its 65th year, the competition is one of the most highly regarded around and has an enviable record of identifying the finest young talent out there. Prizewinners of the competition become part of the ROSL “family” and many winners over the years have told of how they come to regard the clubhouse as a second home, for rehearsals, concerts and mentoring as they start to make their way in a tricky but rewarding industry.

In late September this year I was delighted to perform a ‘Concert of Memories’ in honour of the late Roderick Lakin MBE, former director of Royal Over-Seas League Arts. I am honoured and privileged to have known Roderick since my years as student participating in the annual music competition, and I was always inspired and humbled by his devotion to the Arts, especially music. He was incredibly knowledgeable, experienced and, most importantly, curious. His passion for music allowed him to be sensitive, emotional and excited about music and musicians.

Dolmen ensemble rehearse at Blythe Centre for Performing Arts

I am writing this blog at a cruising altitude of 12,000 feet, as we fly from Nelson to Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island. Below us, I can see the majestic mountains of New Zealand’s interior, and Som, Edward, and I (the three members of the Dolmen Ensemble) are all thinking how lucky we are that music has taken us to such a spectacular place.

In Christchurch, we’ll be playing a concert at the newly built concert hall, aptly called ‘The Piano’. We’ll then be adjudicating the Pettman ROSL Arts Scholarship auditions at the same venue, where we will have the difficult job of choosing one out of fifteen chamber groups from across New Zealand to come to the UK to have masterclasses, perform concerts, and attend concerts in the summer of 2017.

In October, Duke’s Auctioneers hosted a valuation day at the London clubhouse. Members brought along antiques to receive a free valuation for auction from Duke’s experts Dr Matthew Denney and Amy Brenan and to learn more about their heirlooms and treasures.

ROSL intern, Luke Dugdale, shares his experiences of working behind the scenes at Over-Seas House London.