Explore the History of NYO

"Your letter has rendered me the happiest person in the world. Come hell, high water or anything short of fatality I will be with you on April 13th. I have been watching the post every day for weeks and weeks and now I am shaking all over. Thank you, THANK YOU, I kept waking up at night, and thinking it was a dream, so I fetched the letter and put it under my pillow”

Musician of the first NYO in 1948

When Dame Ruth Railton set out to create the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain in 1948, not everyone was persuaded of her vision. Fast forward to the 21st century, and this platform for players of outstanding vitality and ability is worldrenowned as a pinnacle of artistic achievement.

NYO changes its musicians each year, bringing new energy, new perspectives and new commitment to classical music. But one thing never changes: the youthful perspective it brings to orchestral playing. Young musicians discover the benefits of collaborating with a vast group of like-minded people, in the process gaining skills and friendships that last a lifetime. And the focus of NYO continually expands, especially as it encourages members to connect with other young musicians across the country and share their expertise.

Since 1948, NYO has given over 550 concerts and nurtured some 5,000 young musicians. Not all of our former members go on to join the orchestral profession – but we hope it is a life-changing experience for everyone, helping them develop invaluable skills whatever their future careers.

For those who do dedicate their lives to music, many become international stars: our list of former musicians includes Sir Simon Rattle, NYO percussionist, now Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra; Judith Weir, NYO oboist, now composer, and Sir Mark Elder, NYO bassoonist, now the Music Director of the Hallé. Awarding the Queen’s Medal for Music to NYO in 2012, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies noted: “When you conduct any orchestra, its quality is always enhanced by a core of former NYO musicians and their positive influence, not only in Britain but throughout the world.”

Most recent examples of NYO’s impact as a seedbed of artistic excellence include the formative role that our ensemble experience has played in the development and career progression of our Principal Trumpet Players from NYO 2009 and 2010, named Assistant Conductor of the Hallé and Principal Trumpet of the Philharmonia respectively, both at just 20 years old. For a long time the production of music leaders has been a side-effect of NYO activity. Today, NYO recognises that it is one of our most valuable functions. We actively seek to build on this effect, to increase our positive impact.

NYO Alumni

NYO has a vibrant alumni community of some 5,000 members which extends around the globe. NYO’s alumni include many of the world’s finest musicians and individuals who have gone on to achieve excellence in a wide variety of careers.

Follow the link below to explore a full list of NYO’s alumni.





The timeline, is far from comprehensive, but gives an indication of the scope of NYO’s activities - and of the many ways in which the world’s youngest, brightest orchestra is more vital to the UK’s artistic life than ever.


Please note the programmes are now unavailable online. If you’d like to find out more about NYO’s history, or learn more about our programme archive, please email Sarah Cox at s.cox@nyo.org.uk.
















Third party cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of these cookies. If you would like to review what is used and how to opt out please click our cookie policy here.