The National Youth Orchestra has a proud history of supporting teenagers’ aspirations. We were founded by Dame Ruth Railton in 1948 as a post-war symbol of hope and confidence in the UK’s young people.

For over 70 years, NYO’s pioneering spirit has made us an award-winning leader in music education and a champion of teenage potential. NYO alumni gone on to leading roles in classical music all over the world and in all walks of life.

Sophie conducts the NYO at the BBC Proms
July - NYO musicians create their own encore conducted by Sophie, perhaps the youngest conductor ever at the BBC Proms.
July - #NYOHopeExchange fires up post-pandemic hope through music with 200 musicians, 4 orchestras and audiences in 8 locations UK-wide.

July - Hundreds of teenagers join #NYOmightyriver from their bedrooms to celebrate black voices in classical music. The project is awarded UK Youth's Inspiring Inclusivity Award.

April - 10,000 people play their part in #NYOdetojoy, in a huge socially distanced orchestra.

NYO plays in chateaus, parks, markets places & even the swimming pool, in residence at the Festival Berlioz in France


NYO performance of Mahler’s Symphony No.9 at the Young Euro Classical Festival in Berlin receives a standing ovation.


NYO Inspire goes national, creating opportunities for hundreds more teenagers to make music a bigger part of their lives.


NYO tours to Northern Ireland for the first time as part of the Derry-Londonderry City of Culture celebrations.


The National Youth Orchestra is awarded the Queen’s Medal for Music to recognise 64 years of outstanding achievement by Britain’s teenage musicians.


NYO Inspire programme trial with NYO musicians leading a day of playing and sharing music to inspire others in the North East.


By its 60th anniversary, The National Youth Orchestra has nurtured 4,800 young musicians and performed over 550 concerts.


Marin Alsop becomes the first woman to conduct a National Youth Orchestra concert.


International trumpet soloist, Alison Balsam was a trumpet player with the Orchestra as a teenager. She describes “playing in NYO was life changing”.


Sir Simon Rattle returns to The National Youth Orchestra as a conductor at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall. He was a percussion player with the Orchestra in 1971.


Yehudi Menuhin joins The National Youth Orchestra to perform Berg’s Violin Concerto. He was a great admirer of Dame Ruth Railton’s educational practice.


Composer and conductor Benjamin Britten becomes President of The National Youth Orchestra.


The National Youth Orchestra tours Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Caesarea and Athens.


The National Youth Orchestra tours behind the iron curtain visiting Kruschev’s Soviet Union as well as Germany and Sweden. British Pathé film captures the Moscow performance.


The National Youth Orchestra performs for the first time at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall. NYO has performed at the Proms every year since.

“I swear the temperature actually rises in the Royal Albert Hall when we play.”

- Ashley, trombone


Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth becomes Royal Patron of The National Youth Orchestra.


110 young musicians meet for the first NYO residency. They perform together for the first time at the Assembly Rooms, Bath with conductor Reginald Jacques.


Dame Ruth Railton recruits teenage musicians for the world’s first National Youth Orchestra. Over 2,000 young people apply.


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