Nottingham Youth Orchestra was founded in 1985 by Derek Williams and the late Stephen Fairlie, which means that our 2015-16 season marked NYO's 30th Anniversary. On February 27th 2016 all three orchestras participated in a memorable concert at the Royal Concert Hall to celebrate this event. A registered charity, our aim is to promote the musical development of young local musicians in full time education. The NYO has a reputation for its high standards of performance and has received praise and acclaim both in this country and on tours abroad. In the NYO's first ten years the orchestra played in Edinburgh, Normandy, Cyprus and Austria. The 10th anniversary saw the Orchestra making a memorable tour to Canada and America, which included a live television performance.

Over the past 20 years, NYO has expanded from just one orchestra to three classical orchestras and two jazz orchestras. These groups involve over 300 young players aged 8 to 19, representing some 50 schools in Nottinghamshire and other parts of the East Midlands. All five groups meet weekly for rehearsals in the Becket School. The Training Orchestra (NYtO), under the direction of David Leeder takes young players from grade 2 standard upwards. Most of these progress into the Intermediate Orchestra (NYiO), conducted by Chris Hoggarth, which tackles a variety of music, including classical favourites, film scores and traditional folk songs. Following Derek Williams' retirement the senior orchestra has had the benefit of a number of experienced visiting conductors. Last season our conductors were Chris George, former leader of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and string coach to the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, and Alpesh Chauhan, Conducting Fellow at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Our 30th anniversary season began with a concert conducted by Jan Wierzba, one of the most promising conductors of the Portugese musical scene.

All three orchestras are coached by experienced local professional musicians who support all the sections of the orchestras in their musical development.Players have an annual residential weekend either at Lea Green in Derbyshire or at Harlaxton Manor, near Grantham, where a lot of music is played but there are also social activities which allow orchestra members to get to know one another away from rehearsals. Many NYO members form strong friendships from their time in the organisation, which continue into their adult life. The senior NYO also undertakes a summer tour, often to Europe. Recent destinations have included Florence, Vienna, Berlin, Barcelona, Paris, Antwerp and Prague.

Over the years NYO has been lucky enough to have workshops with a number of eminent musicians including: John Miller, head of brass at the Royal Northern College and former 1st trumpet with the Philharmonia; Guy Johnston, cello, BBC Young Musician winner 2000, now well- known soloist and chamber musician; Roger Coull, violin, leader of the Coull Quartet which is in residence at Warwick University; Laura Jellicoe and Hugh McKenna (flute and oboe), teachers at the Royal Northern College of Music and members of the Halle´ Orchestra; Chris Swann (clarinet) from the Royal Northern College of Music and Sinfonia Viva.

Nottingham Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) was launched at NYO's concert Royal Concert Hall on 1st March 2008 in the presence of distinguished jazz musician John Dankworth. NYJO is directed by Phil Smith, and NYJO2, training band for NYJO, is under the direction of Ben Lee. Every summer, NYJO spends a week performing in Edinburgh during the Jazz Festival. All bands perform gigs and concerts locally, with a varied repertoire of jazz and popular tunes. NYJO holds workshops with professional jazz musicians. In 2016 they worked with pianist and composer Zoe Rahman as well as band leader and broadcaster, Julian Joseph.

Vienna Tour - NYO at the Opera House

In the NYO's first ten years the Senior Orchestra played in Edinburgh, Normandy, Cyprus and Austria. The 10th anniversary saw the Orchestra making a memorable tour to Canada and America, which included a live television performance.

Highlights from 2000 onwards include:

2000 - Orchestra took part in When You Wish Upon A Star concert at the RCH, in aid of children's charities.

2001 - As well as the normal programme, the orchestra was asked to play with Guy Johnston, winner of the 2000 Young Musician of the Year competition, as part of his rehearsal schedule prior to his appearance at the proms where he played Elgar's Cello Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

2001 - Tour to Tuscany.

2003 - NYO was the 'warm up' act at a big screen showing in Centre Parcs of 'Tosca' from Covent Garden. We played to a large audience before being let loose on the River Rapids!

2003 - Invited to take part in the Masterprize competition for young composers, rehearsing one of the competition pieces with members of the CBSO and performing it in the Symphony Hall, Birmingham.

2004 - Memorable tour to Tuscany including a performance of Carmina Burana with a wonderful Italian choir to an absolutely packed audience in the church of San Giovanni in Lucca.

2008 - NYO gave the world premiere of John Dankworth's concerto for jazz quartet and orchestra played by the Chris Garrick Quartet. At the end of the concert, John Dankworth joined the orchestra and choir onstage for an unforgettable performance of 'The A Train'.

2009 - Tour to Vienna where we played a Mozart Sinfonia Concertante in the Orangerie at Schonbrunn Palace. This was where Mozart and Salieri had their famous competition where they both composed works based on a theme given them by the Emperor. We played at the same end of the room as Mozart (Salieri's end is now the bar!) again to a packed audience.

2010 - The NYO's 25th Anniversary Concert at the Royal Concert Hall invited the audience to board a Time Machine for a Musical Journey.

2010 - Tour to Normandy.

2011 - Tour to Berlin.

2012 - Tour to Antwerp

2013 - Tour to Vienna

2014 - Tour to Jersey

2015 - Tour to Holland

2016 - The NYO's 30th Anniversary Concert at the Royal Concert Hall.

2016 - Tour to Prague

2017 - Sheku Kanneh-Mason performs Haydn's C major Cello Concert with NYO

2017 - Tour to Loire Valley

2017 - Venezuelan Conductor Natalia Luis-Bassa produces amazing result, ending our November concert with an 'encore-inspiring' Conga del Fuego Nuevo.


2018 - Tour to Vienna

2018 - Spring Spectacular Concert in March with Cantamus and Thoresby Colliery Band

2019 - Royal Concert Hall - A Russian Gala with Jeneba Kanneh-Mason as soloist. All of our orchestras participated in this truley inspirational concert.


Over the years NYO has been lucky enough to have workshops with a number of eminent musicians including:

Over the last five years the NYO has started to introduce guest conductors into our concert series.  We have been lucky to have James Lowe conduct a number of concerts. James (an ex-NYO member) is Artistic Director of The New Bristol Sinfonia and Principal Conductor of the Edinburgh Contemporary Music Ensemble.

March 2011 - Jon Malaxetxebarria from the Royal Northern College of Music was guest conductor for the Spring and Winter concerts.

March 2012 - NYO was honoured to be chosen by BBC Music Nation to be part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad with our concert at the RCH on 3rd March 2012. "A Journey Through Olympic Cities" took us on a musical journey through a number of Olympic venues. It was hosted by Des Coleman and featured Olympic athletes past and present and involved local schools in displays of Olympic related projects.

April 2012 - James Lowe returned to conduct the NYO for their Night at the Opera concert at the Albert Hall.

July 2012 - Tour to Antwerp followed by a concert at St Barnabas Church.

March 2013 - A Best of British Prom concert at the RCH, which featured Julian Lloyd Webber playing Elgar's Cello Concerto. A great success!

April 2013 -Spring Concert at Southwell Minster. Sadly this was the last NYO concert for Derek Williams, as he announced his retirement in June.

As an independent orchestra and a registered charity NYO receives no local authority or state funding and depends on subscriptions and voluntary donations for its activities. As far as funds allow we will offer financial support to young musicians who would otherwise be unable to enjoy the facilities offered. For this we rely on individuals and corporate bodies for support.



The Nottingham Youth Orchestra