Photo © Simon Jay Price: Millie Ashton (NYO Leader) & Sarah Alexander (Chief Executive/Artistic Director) receiving the Ensemble Award on the behalf of NYO.
Big news for the NYO family at the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards last night!
We were thrilled to have been awarded the Ensemble Award for our work in 2015, and also very honoured to have been nominated alongside such a brilliant shortlist of ensembles – Chineke! Orchestra, the Fidelio Trio, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra – who have all made a huge difference to the classical music industry in their own unique ways.
On top of that, NYO Principal Composer Freya Ireland took home the inaugural RPS Duet Prize for Young Composers, an award for outstanding young musicians who study at mainstream schools (not music specialist schools).
It means so much to us to be recognised for our work in 2015. This included launching NYO Inspire, our peer-powered programme giving hundreds of teenagers breakthrough experiences in orchestral music, both as musicians and as audience members. Through peer learning and sharing, NYO Inspire aims to make a powerful impact in music education, providing opportunities to state-school musicians to reach new heights in their music-making.
We also dived into exceptional musical creativity and communication through performances of the widest conceivable range of repertoire that included brand new commissions from Unsuk Chin (commissioned for NYO by the Southbank Centre) and Tansy Davies, Percy Grainger’s rarely performed The Warriors, and Mahler’s ‘Symphony No.9’. And for the first time in more than a decade we resumed international touring, performing to a rapt audience at the Konzerthaus in Berlin at the Young Euro Classic festival.
At yesterday night’s dazzling awards ceremony, the Royal Philharmonic Society celebrated our achievements with these words:
At a time when music has such a precarious place in the schools' curriculum, the outstanding work of Britain's world-class youth orchestra is needed more than ever. But last year it broke new ground with its campaigns to inspire and directly engage hundreds more teenagers with the orchestra. The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain has been a beacon of excellence for decades.
Millie Ashton (NYO Leader) speaking at the awards ceremony.
And NYO Leader, Millie Ashton, brought the unique NYO Musician perspective to the evening and talked about the magical experience of being in NYO:
For a teenager who loves classical music, NYO is a dream come true. There’s nothing else like it. The passion for music is total and it’s shared by everyone. The commitment to orchestral brilliance is absolute. It’s all about performance and communicating our passion, setting audiences alight with our love of music, and NYO Inspire is awesome because we perform for people our own age and play alongside them in workshops, sharing our passion with our peers and seeing them get it.
NYO Musicians Tom Pritchard (percussion), Yuma Kitahara (clarinet), and Millie Ashton (violin) ended the night with a bit of tango, giving an elegant performance of Piazzolla’s Histoire de Tango arranged by Tom.
NYO Musicians rehearsing before the awards ceremony.
Action shot of Millie Ashton (NYO Leader) & Tom Pritchard (percussion) performing Piazzolla’s Histoire de Tango arranged by Tom.
Yuma Kitahara (clarinet) looking proud after the performance.
A huge thanks to all the musicians, tutors, staff, trustees, partners, funders, supporters, and listeners who have joined us along the way – we end with the many thanks Millie gave last night:
The musical culture at NYO is amazing. It’s the creation of thousands of people – musicians like me but also the conductors and soloists who work with us, the wonderful NYO Tutors, Sarah Alexander and all the NYO staff and trustees, our music teachers, our parents who support our musical ambitions, and NYO funders who give so generously year after year because they believe in what young people can do. NYO Musicians owe so much to all these people. So many, many thanks to all of you and thank you so much for this award.
You can catch the highlights of the RPS Music Awards ceremony on BBC Radio 3 tonight (11 May) at 7.30pm.