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National Open Youth Orchestra to launch in Wales

A new partnership aims to reduce musical exclusion and develop the skills of talented young disabled musicians, while increasing support from the sector

The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (RWCMD), BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBCNOW) and the National Open Youth Orchestra (NOYO) have announced the launch of the Cardiff NOYO Centre, a major partnership offering the first progression route for talented young disabled musicians in the region.  

NOYO, as the world’s first disabled-led national youth ensemble open to both young disabled and non-disabled musicians, has been laying the foundations for a more diverse orchestral sector since the organisation’s launch in 2018. As well as ‘standard’ orchestral instruments, NOYO musicians play a wide range of electronic instruments, such as the LinnStrument, Seaboard RISE and Clarion, an accessible instrument that can be played with any movement of the body including the eyes.  

NOYO harpist Holli Pandit said, ‘There aren’t other youth orchestras who are as passionate about showing disabled people can play on the same stages as non-disabled people. Lots of the music we play, you wouldn’t really get that in a stereotypical classical music concert – you wouldn’t have the instruments! We believe that it’s best if disabled and non-disabled musicians can integrate together, and then we can come up with fresh new ideas and be more creative, explore different parts of music.’

The Cardiff NOYO Centre will start running rehearsals from September 2023, with a call out for 11-25 year-old disabled and non-disabled musicians to apply to audition from 1 March 2023.  

Participation in the National Open Youth Orchestra is free of charge. Cardiff NOYO Centre members will be supported through monthly rehearsals and one-to-one tuition, and will join musicians from other NOYO Centres in London, Bristol, Birmingham and Bournemouth for a yearly residential programme from 2024. 

Kevin Price, Deputy Director of Music at RWCMD, said, ‘I felt so privileged to be there for the National Open Youth Orchestra’s first ever concert in Milton Court this year. The musicality, sincerity and expressive power bowled me over. It’s a fantastic opportunity for young musicians in Wales to be part of, showing us how diversity can inspire exciting new musical possibilities.

‘Our partnership aims to address and challenge the systemic barriers that so many young disabled people face and to offer the musical opportunities available to their non-disabled peers through instrumental tuition and ensemble training.’ 

Barry Farrimond-Chuong, CEO of Open Up Music, the charity behind NOYO, said, ‘Musical talent and potential are everywhere, but opportunities for young disabled people to progress in music are not. We are extremely excited to be working with Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and BBC National Orchestra of Wales to expand the National Open Youth Orchestra and open up music to more young disabled musicians.’


For more information and application details, visit the National Open Youth Orchestra website at www.noyo.org.uk

Applications to audition will be open online 1-31 March 2023.