In early July ROSL Artistic Director Geoff Parkin travelled to Antigua with ROSL alumni, clarinettist Jordan Black and violinist William Newell to work with the Antigua and Burbuda Youth Symphony Orchestra. Alongside the ROSL delegation were ten students from the Purcell School for Young Musicians, a student from Wells Cathedral School, all headed by Alison Cox OBE, head of composition at The Purcell School and founder of The Commonwealth Resounds, of which Geoff Parkin is a patron. 

The ABYSO in its current form is just over a year old and in that time has already achieved exceptional progress. Chaired with great vitality and determination by Her Excellency Karen-Mae Hill, the Antigua and Barbudan High Commissioner to the UK, the orchestra has a vision to train instrumental musicians to the highest levels and to be the youth music hub in the Caribbean.

The delegation joined the ABYSO on their summer orchestral course at the Sir Viv Richards Cricket Stadium, which culminated in a concert at the end of the 8 days at the Dean William Lake Centre, to celebrate 70 years of the Commonwealth.

Each instrument of the orchestra was represented by the visitors, and so days consisted of sectional rehearsals in smaller groups, full strings and wind sections led by William and Jordan and full orchestral rehearsals, led by Geoff Parkin, who also mentored the two resident ABYSO conductors, Clarita Thomas and Vinema Jarvis.

ROSL hopes for this to be the start of multi-year support for the orchestra as the programme grows and as part of the commitment to the orchestra, two scholarships were awarded, to pay for a year of instrumental lessons for members of the orchestra. These recipients were selected by Geoff Parkin in consultation with our ROSL musicians. In the end three young musicians were selected, with one scholarship being split between two people. They are 25 year old oboeist David Isaac (full scholarship) and violinists Kaylin Joseph and Sa’kiyah Ladeatte, both 11.

The week also included a reception at Government House with Sir Rodney and Lady Williams, Governor General to Antigua and Barbuda and appearances on television and radio. The final concert was broadcast on Antiguan television and live streamed on Facebook.


ROSL members can play a part in supporting this wonderful project by donating, in order that we continue this important work, which is so in line with our values, and in a part of the Commonwealth we have worked in less than others. Your donation will support both scholarships for young Antiguan musicians, as well as ROSL prizewinners travelling to Antigua to train both the tutors and young musicians on the island. For more information or to donate please contact Geoff Parkin on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Photo captions:

  1. Concert rehearsal
  2. Geoff Parkin rehearses the orchestra
  3. Geoff Parkin working with ABYSO conductor Clarita Thomas
  4. Jordan Black with the woodwind section
  5. ROSL Antigua Scholars
  6. ROSL delegation at Government House reception
  7. Sir Rodney Williams Governor General at Government House reception
  8. Sir Rodney and Lady Williams Professor, John Sloboda OBE and HE High Commission Karen-Mae Hill
  9. Vinema Jarvis, Clarita Thomas and Geoff Parkin
  10. Violinist William Newell with the string section
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