National Youth Orchestra: two Greater Manchester members say why young classical musicians should audition

The National Youth Orchestra is recruiting talented young classical musicians - here two current members from Greater Manchester speak about their time in the group.
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For more than 70 years the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain has been providing opportunities for young classical musicians to hone their craft and develop their skills. Now the prestigious ensemble is searching for its latest recruits - and two current members from Greater Manchester have been urging their musical peers to apply.

The NYO’s audition process is taking place this summer and young musicians who would like to join its ranks are being encouraged to apply, as well as those who would like to join its programme which provides chances for further musical development.

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To help musicians who may be wondering whether to take the plunge and send in their videos, two current members of the NYO from the city-region have spoken about the impact it has had on their development as young musicians.

Here’s what you need to know about applying to join the NYO if you’re a young Greater Manchester musician with a passion for classical music and performing.

How do you apply to join the NYO?

The NYO is one of the best-known youth ensembles in classical music and can be seen performing on prestigious stages including at festivals such as the BBC Proms.

It is currently looking for musicians who would like to join the 2024 ensemble. To do so you must be at Grade 8 level or above on your instrument, though you do not have to have taken the graded exams.

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Musicians have until 29 May to submit their applications, with the first round video auditions having to be submitted by 11 June. The final round assessments will be in person and take place across the country in September. It will be led by NYO tutors who are also professional musicians and former members of the orchestra who will take workshops as part of the process. The application process is also free.

The National Youth Orchestra on stage at The Barbican in London. Photo: Mark AllanThe National Youth Orchestra on stage at The Barbican in London. Photo: Mark Allan
The National Youth Orchestra on stage at The Barbican in London. Photo: Mark Allan

If you’re not quite at Grade 8 level yet but would like to push your musicianship to another level, there’s also the NYO Inspire programme for musicians who are around Grade 6 or Grade 7 level. The programme offers a series of free opportunities to make music in groups at a high level, with NYO Inspire putting on one-day events and residencies which are structured around weekends and school holidays.

The programme is particularly intended to benefit musicians who are traditionally under-represented or who may experience barriers in taking their playing to the next level. There is no set audition process for NYO Inspire, auditions can be sent in all year round.

To find out more about how to apply, visit the NYO website.

What have Greater Manchester musicians said about being in the NYO?

To help those who might be wavering on whether or not to apply to make up their minds, two young Greater Manchester classical musicians have spoken about how being in the NYO has helped them to develop their skills and to forge their path towards the next stage of their musical journey and career.

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Sofia Patterson-Gutierrez, who is 19 and from Stockport, plays the flute and after initially having 10-minute taster lessons at her primary school made it to Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester. She also appeared in the prestigious BBC Young Musician competition in 2022, winning the woodwind category.

Sofia said: “NYO has helped fuel my passion for music making - to say the least! To be honest, being part of NYO has had one of the biggest impacts on my life. I have made such amazing friendships and it has really pushed me and motivated me to carry on being a musician.

Sofia Patterson-GutierrezSofia Patterson-Gutierrez
Sofia Patterson-Gutierrez

“I remember shaking sitting in the first tutti rehearsal, blown away by the power and amazing energy surrounding me, which is something I have never felt anywhere else.

“What could have been a really daunting experience was made so enjoyable by other musicians and support staff who made me feel at home. Being part of NYO not only helps me improve as an individual musician, but also helps develop the skills I have learnt in working with others in such a high energy environment.”

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Toby Johnson-Jones, an 18-year-old French horn player from Oldham, said: “I have been part of the NYO community for the last five years and I have to say I have had the best time ever. I initially joined the NYO Inspire programme and that led to being invited to be part of the Inspire Orchestra.

Toby Johnson-JonesToby Johnson-Jones
Toby Johnson-Jones

“For the last two years I have been an orchestral member of the National Youth Orchestra in the French horn section. I have made some brilliant friends and the tutors and organisation are so supportive.

“Each NYO experience is so different and exciting, it just wants you to become a better musician and spread the word about the amazing time you have. Next year I will be studying French horn at the Royal Northern College of Music.”

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