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30th January, 2018

Members sought for the world’s first disabled-led national youth orchestra

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Barbican and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama will together be a training centre for the National Open Youth Orchestra

The National Open Youth Orchestra (NOYO), the world’s first disabled-led national youth orchestra, is now searching for young musicians from London and the surrounding area for its launch in autumn 2018.

The orchestra is looking for disabled people aged 11 – 25 who have a passion for music and the potential to play an acoustic or electronic instrument as part of an ensemble. They could be musicians already or be proficient at using assistive technology and have the determination to persevere musically. With its vision of inclusive orchestras for the 21st century, NOYO is also inviting applications from non-disabled young musicians.

The Barbican and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama will together be a training centre for the orchestra, helping to find potential musicians, host auditions and provide music tuition and rehearsal space. NOYO is also partnered with Bristol Music Trust and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, as well as local Music Education Hubs, schools and charities.

National Open Youth Orchestra Musical Director Doug Bott said: “The UK is leading the way with the world’s first disabled-led national youth orchestra. Between now and April, we want to hear from young disabled and non-disabled talents in London and the surrounding area. NOYO will provide them with unprecedented support to develop their musical skills and realise their potential as part of an ensemble.”

“NOYO aims to be a modern orchestra for the 21st century where diversity is a catalyst for exciting new music that combines acoustic and electronic instruments, transcending musical genres.”

Jenny Mollica, Head of Creative Learning for the Barbican and the Guildhall School added: “We are thrilled to be partnering with the first ever National Open Youth Orchestra. At Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning we support people of all ages and backgrounds to access the arts and we are really looking forward to meeting our young musicians. This is a great opportunity to be a part of a truly pioneering orchestra and we would encourage young people to apply.”

NOYO was given the go-ahead thanks to Arts Council England funding following the success of a pilot programme, the South West Open Youth Orchestra (SWOYO), that has enjoyed performances at Bristol Cathedral, the Colston Hall and on BBC Radio 3. This year, it was awarded a Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award for its role in promoting learning and participation.

SWOYO was the first of its kind, working 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. Starring disabled and non-disabled young musicians, SWOYO has performed new music by composers including Liz Lane and Liam Taylor-West.

The Barbican and the Guildhall School are ideal partners for the National Open Youth Orchestra as they have over 30 years’ experience of bringing together world-class artistic partners with students and communities in ground-breaking new ways to create inspiring arts experiences for all. Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning supports people of all ages and backgrounds to engage with the arts, access some of the world’s most in- demand artists and discover their creative voice. Last year, Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning reached almost 80,000 people.

Together the Barbican and the Guildhall School create new routes for people to take part in the arts – from first experiences to higher education programmes and professional training – developing interests, skills, confidence and careers. The Guildhall School is also the UK’s leading provider of specialist music training at the under-18 level, with nearly 2,500 students in Junior Guildhall and Centre for Young Musicians, which now has six branches across England.

Applications for NOYO are now open at to be assessed for auditions in May and June. The deadline for applications is Sunday 8 April.

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