The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain will appear at London’s Barbican Centre on 3 January, and Warwick Arts Centre on 7 January, in two orchestras led by conductors Sian Edwards and [pictured] Andrew Gourlay. 

NYO celebrates the inaugural performances of their diverse and inclusive community of musicians, in a burst of energetic and purposeful live music-making. 

The young musicians will ‘open up’ the concert hall experience, welcoming in audiences with a programme of music intended to thrill newcomers and seasoned concertgoers alike.

The teenage musicians of NYO come from all over the UK, and from very different backgrounds – but they’re bound together by their love for orchestral music, and their desire to ‘open up’ this music to other young musicians. With 55% of the orchestra made up of musicians in state schools and 48% of leadership positions across the orchestra occupied by female and non-binary musicians, NYO aims to celebrate the incredible diversity and musicianship in its youth community and make connections that can transcend geographical boundaries.

Every NYO concert in 2022 falls under the theme of ‘Open up!’ –  not only is society opening up, but each musician in the orchestra is working hard to open up the space to allow new perspectives to shine through, new relationships to be formed, and encourage preconceptions about classical music to fall away. Musicians will be breaking down the fourth wall, presenting the concerts from the stage, and explaining why each piece matters to them within the context of the performance as a whole.

In January 2022 NYO celebrates the opportunity to ‘open up’ to concert hall audiences with two performances under the theme Open Up & Let Loose! This is both a welcome release and a call to action to the performers and audience members. From Thomas Ades’s hopeful Dawn – Chacony for Orchestra at Any Distance, to Gabriela Lena Frank’s energetic Three Latin American Dances and the explosive energy of Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, the young musicians will explore works imbued with pulsing dance rhythms, celebrating freedom and radical self-expression. 

Sarah Alexander, NYO’s Chief Executive and Creative Director said: ‘We are happily striving to make our concerts as accessible as possible, to let loose beyond the concert platform, open up the concert experience, unlock the potential of incredible young musicians and create a brilliant experience for audiences. With free tickets for all under-19s, our understanding of orchestral music is that it can and should be relevant and inclusive to every young person in the UK’.

In the spring, NYO welcomes back Mexican conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto for performances at London’s Southbank Centre and Victoria Hall in Stoke-on-Trent, with music that is open to influences and musical cultures beyond the symphony orchestra. Through these concerts NYO will bring their ethos and spirit of inclusivity to life, performing music by composers with something to say about the world we live in, while exploring what it means to be an orchestra made up entirely of musicians born in the 21st century.

Mon 3 Jan 2022, 19:00 – Barbican Hall

Ravel   La Valse

Karim Al-Zand  City Scenes (Three Urban Dances)

Dani Howard  Coalescence

Rachmaninoff  Symphonic Dances

Conductor: Sian Edwards

National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain | Barbican

Friday 7 Jan 2022, 19:30 –  Warwick Arts Centre

Thomas Adès  Dawn (Chacony For Orchestra At Any Distance)
Gabriela Lena Frank  Three Latin American Dances
Rachmaninoff  Symphonic Dances

Conductor: Andrew Gourlay

Thursday 21 April – Victoria Hall, Stoke-on-Trent

Saturday 23 April – Southbank Centre, London

Gabriela Ortiz Téenek — Invenciones de Territorio

Stravinsky  The Rite of Spring 

Dinuk Wijeratne   Concerto for Tabla & Orchestra

Conductor: Carlos Miguel Prieto