The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (NYO) is internationally celebrated as the world’s greatest orchestra of teenagers, fuelled by the generosity and dedication of 164 young musicians recruited from every background and every corner of the UK. The commitment these young people make to playing music at the highest possible standard, and to sharing these skills with other young people, ensures not only dazzling performances celebrated in the national media, but also creates a unique crucible where young people are able to inspire other young people directly, and use their passion and skill to connect deeply with others.
Since March 2020, NYO has adapted to continue to deliver inspiring musical experiences for teenagers, and has found new ways to keep performance alive in the lives of teenagers: from encouraging 44,000 musicians to play Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy' on their doorsteps, to shining a light on music by Black composers and sharing this with the widest possible audience of young people. NYO is an extraordinary emblem of what the nation’s teenagers can achieve.
Since its founding in 1948 by Dame Ruth Railton, NYO has nurtured the dreams of teenage musicians including many leading musical voices; from Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Mark Elder and Kwamé Ryan to Alison Balsom, Thomas Adès and Judith Weir. NYO alumni sit in 25% of principal seats in London orchestras, have founded ensembles including the London Sinfonietta, Aurora Orchestra, and Multi-Story Orchestra, and hold leadership positions at major conservatoires.
NYO musicians are the future of orchestral music and powerful advocates. We think of NYO as an innovation engine, fuelled by teenagers’ energy, creativity, skills and desire to engage with other teenagers, who are their future audience. Through NYO Inspire, NYO musicians lead workshops to include hundreds of their musical peers in ensembles, and we look forward to bringing these ensemble performances back, live, in 2021. Each year, thousands of teenagers experience thrilling symphonic performances by NYO in their schools, and we hope to find a way to facilitate this in the coming year as we work around the restrictions. NYO also hosts unique pre-concert receptions for teenagers.
NYO is renowned for its bold approach to new music, giving world premieres by leading composers. In recent years the BBC Proms has given a platform for music by Anna Meredith, Tansy Davies and Iris Ter Schiphorst. NYO joyfully promotes new music within its ranks, with a dedicated section of seven prolific teenage composers. NYO is Southbank Centre’s Associate Orchestra and, as Classic FM’s Orchestra of Teenagers, collaborates with the broadcaster to offer £5 tickets to under-25s to all NYO concerts. The BBC generously broadcasts all NYO concerts on BBC Radio 3.
NYO relies on voluntary donations for over 70% of its income. Every year, we welcome our individual, trust, corporate and legacy supporters to concerts and events. They are all committed to supporting our musicians and ensuring that they enjoy empowering and transformative experiences in NYO and NYO Inspire. Most members pay subsidised fees but the organisation works hard to develop bursaries to ensure any young person with talent can apply regardless of financial means.