Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

National Open Youth Orchestra announces new partners

2:46, 22nd November 2017

The Barbican and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama are the new official partners of the National Open Youth Orchestra (NOYO), the world’s first disabled-led national youth orchestra.

Working with their local music education hubs, schools and charities, they join the Bristol Music Trust (which is working with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra) as the second major partnership for the orchestra.

The Barbican and the Guildhall School will become a joint training centre for the orchestra, helping to signpost potential musicians aged between 11 and 25, hosting auditions, and providing music tuition and rehearsal spaces.

The institutions have over 30 years’ experience of bringing together leading artistic partners with students and communities to create inspiring arts experiences. Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning supports people of all ages and backgrounds to engage with the arts, access some of the world’s leading artists, and discover their creative voices. Last year, Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning reached almost 80,000 people.

The news was announced at a parliamentary reception on 21 November, at which findings of a six-month independent feasibility study into the need and demand for the ensemble were also revealed.

The study, led by Sound Connections, found that a national disabled-led and inclusive orchestra is needed to complement and enhance existing provision, concluding that it would fill the gap for progression routes, create new and innovative art, and be part of advocacy for disabled young people.

National Open Youth Orchestra chief executive Barry Farrimond said: ‘It is often said that music is the universal language, but unfortunately a great many disabled people are still left out of the conversation. We are overjoyed to be working with the Barbican and the Guildhall School to deliver the world’s first disabled-led national youth orchestra!’

‘We are extremely proud and delighted to be partnering with the National Open Youth Orchestra as the London training centre on this significant and timely new initiative,’ said Sean Gregory, director of learning and engagement for the Barbican and the Guildhall School.

‘Together, we share a vision and commitment to diversity and inclusion in the arts. From widening access and participation, to providing relevant training and progression routes, including developing a more inclusive environment for the future of conservatoire training, we recognise that this work requires long-term engagement and investment with our local and national partners in order to create truly meaningful and sustainable change. This change needs to start now and today, in order to empower our future artists and enable a necessary step-change in the training and performance environment of tomorrow.’

The National Open Youth Orchestra was launched following the success of a pilot programme, the South West Open Youth Orchestra. The ensemble works with young musicians with additional support needs who play a range of musical instruments, including an accessible musical instrument called the Clarion that can be controlled by the movement of a musician’s eyes.

It is anticipated that the search for potential NOYO musicians will start early next year with an audition process in the spring, ready for the orchestra to launch for autumn 2018.


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