Join NYO

Playing in NYO is the greatest adventure teenagers can have through playing and sharing music. You’ll soar in your musical development. Perform on iconic stages. Master new music and new ideas. And play your part as an inspirational changemaker for other young people.

Open a door to NYO

About NYO

The Orchestra is at the heart of our community. Each year 160 teenagers from different backgrounds across the UK come together through their love of music, ready to push their limits, discover new skills and play their part as changemakers for their generation.

They play the most epic orchestral music of all time and diverse new voices. They shape shift into different ensembles.

NYO is celebrated internationally as ‘the world’s greatest orchestra of teenagers.

Applications open again in March 2024.

A year-long adventure

Imagine taking your seat in this cutting-edge orchestra, performing in amazing spaces and surprising places across the UK. Every moment is an opportunity to be inspired by the awesome people around you. And you’ll inspire others too, as a role model and leader you will foster understanding through music and support the musical development of other young people.

It’s a challenge and we’ll support you. It takes serious preparation and is seriously rewarding. NYO musicians take their seat in the Orchestra for a year, or 11 months to be more precise, from October to August. It’s 40+ days of live activity, and some digital, mostly during school holidays and some weekends.

A year in NYO could look like this:

Three young musicians smiling together.
October

NYO Unite

Dive in with an epic day uniting musicians from the whole NYO community, including the Orchestra and NYO Inspire.

December/January

Winter residency

Ten days of community spirit and finding your sound. Tour to perform in concert venues and schools.

Teenage musicians
February

NYO Inspire activity

Three days of honing your skills and taking on the role of mentor. 

April

Spring residency

14 days to deepen connections and extend creativity – a project with a twist! Tour to perform in concert venues and schools.

June/July

NYO Local

Be a local hero and champion music at your local primary school.

July

Inspire Orchestra

Some NYO musicians are invited to support this vibrant project as a mentor.

July/August

Summer residency

14 days to embrace ultimate musical challenges and step up to iconic performance moments.

Who can join the Orchestra?

Is music your passion? Are you looking for a new challenge? It’s time to take on the greatest musical adventure of your life.

You’ll be 13 – 18 years old, a British citizen or living or studying in the UK.

We welcome applications from musicians at secondary school, sixth form college, university and from those who are home-schooled. We don’t accept applications from those studying full-time at a college of music, or on a joint course with a college of music.

If you play your instrument at an advanced level, we want to hear you. Musicians will usually be playing at a level equivalent to Grade 8, but with no need for formal graded exams.

If you are playing at grade 6 level or equivalent (no exams needed) why not consider NYO Inspire? Come and join us, there’s a big part to play for everyone.

How to join

It’s FREE to audition for NYO.

We start from scratch every year, excited to build an orchestra of the UK’s most motivated musical young people. It is a competitive process, but you’ll be supported and have feedback every step of the way.

To apply you fill in our application form and submit your first-round video audition, which will be reviewed by our musical team. For successful candidates the second round is a full day of workshops, in person. At these final assessment days, musicians take part in warm-ups, creative workshops, playing together and discussions, and play their pieces to the audition panel.

The whole process starts in March and culminates in September – see the timeline below.

‘’I said to my Mum, I’m going to give it another try’’ Michael, Trumpet

Applications open
March
Application deadline
May
Video audition deadline
June
First round audition results
July
Final assessment days
September
Final audition results
End September

Cost and financial support

We aim to make sure money is never a barrier to getting involved.

First and final round auditions are FREE, with travel and accommodation bursaries for those who need them.

We ask NYO musicians to make a contribution to the cost of their place in the orchestra. But we understand that for some musicians, any contribution may be out of reach. That’s why we run a generous bursary scheme aiming to support where support is needed.

Frequently asked questions

The NYO Community is open to teenagers, but if you don’t quite fit that age bracket, we would encourage you to get in touch with us before you apply. Email auditions@nyo.org.uk. We are likely to get in touch with you directly if you would benefit from the experience of NYO Inspire but are just outside the age parameters.

Sometimes our dates clash with some school activity. We try our best to schedule activity in the school holidays, but school holiday dates across the UK don’t always match up. If you have to miss school and are having trouble getting time off, we are more than happy to talk to the school and send a letter of support if required. 

Yes – but please make a separate application for each instrument, using the same login details.

There is no need to have taken any exams to be part of the NYO community, we are referring to these to give you a sense of the benchmark level.

If you are thinking of applying for the Orchestra, you will be playing at an advanced level equivalent to grade 8 and or above. You can self-assess by taking a look at the music we play and see if they are about the right standard. If you need further guidance, you can email: auditions@nyo.org.uk.

No musician will be limited from taking part in the NYO activity due to their financial means. There is a cost attached to being in the Orchestra, although The National Youth Orchestra is a charity so this amount is heavily subsidised thanks to our community of generous donors. Auditions and applications are free, and bursaries are available.

Your application for the Orchestra includes you in NYO Inspire activity if you are eligible. Many musicians who apply for the Orchestra find they don’t get in the first or second time. We encourage everyone with feedback and further opportunities. Those musicians who are eligible for NYO Inspire activity will be offered opportunities in NYO Inspire projects.

How do I prepare an audition video?

What is an NYO assessment day?

Stories from our musicians

Events and performances

April 11, 2024 @ 8:00 pm
The Tung Auditorium
England: North West
£12
/ Free for teens
The National Youth Orchestra take you on a daring musical adventure.
April 12, 2024 @ 7:30 pm
Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
England: North West
£19-27
/ Free for teens
Experience a new generation getting behind the greatest orchestral music of all time.
April 14, 2024 @ 7:30 pm
Royal Festival Hall
England: London & South East
£22
/ Free for teens
Experience a new generation getting behind the greatest orchestral music of all time.