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National Open Youth Orchestra to launch in Cardiff

A pioneering inclusive ensemble where talented young disabled and non-disabled musicians rehearse and perform together.

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Published on 12/07/2022

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.

This partnership aims to reduce the musical exclusion and develop the skills of talented young disabled musicians, while increasing sector support for these artists. As the world’s first disabled-led national youth ensemble open to both young disabled and non-disabled musicians, NOYO lays the foundations for a more diverse orchestral sector.

'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.'
Holli PandiNOYO harpist

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 and Cardiff NOYO Centre members will be supported to realise their musical potential through monthly rehearsals and one-to-one tuition. They will also come together with musicians from other NOYO Centres in London, Bristol, Birmingham and Bournemouth for a yearly residential, and whole ensemble concerts from Spring 2024.

'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.'
Kevin PriceDeputy Director of Music at RWCMD

‘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’, said Barry Farrimond-Chuong MBE, CEO of Open Up Music, the charity behind NOYO.

'As the UK’s first Music City, music is at the heart of Cardiff’s future. The NOYO Cardiff Centre will promote an inclusive vision, inviting talented young disabled and non-disabled musicians to rehearse and perform together.

NOYO has already been successfully running in England and we are thrilled to enable more Welsh musicians to join NOYO and develop their skills.

Working closely alongside RWCMD means that we can begin to build a stronger progression route for young disabled people with exceptional musical talent and potential, and for those with career aspirations in the music industry.'
Beatrice CareyEducation and community producer for BBC NOW

For more information and application details, visit the National Open Youth Orchestra website at

For press enquiries contact For enquiries about NOYO, contact Julia Le,

Note to editors:

Participation in the National Open Youth Orchestra is free. There is the potential for financial support to be given in respect of travel costs and any other relevant support necessary for rehearsals, residentials and concerts.

The National Open Youth Orchestra is the world’s first disabled-led national youth ensemble. It was launched in September 2018 to provide a progression route for the UK’s most talented disabled young musicians, as Members of a pioneering inclusive youth orchestra where young disabled and non-disabled musicians play and perform together.

NOYO collaborates with cutting-edge composers to create exciting new music for a diverse range of musicians and instruments. When in 2018 Liam Taylor-West won a British Composer Award for “The Umbrella”, Open Up Music’s first commission, he talked of a creative process involving the young musicians. This is still central to NOYO’s approach to music-making.

'One of the most rewarding aspects of NOYO is feeling like an active participant in the music we play'. Jamie Moody, NOYO saxophonist

There are currently 28 National Open Youth Orchestra Members. Every year, the National Open Youth Orchestra also takes on Trainees, young disabled musicians who it supports for up to three years to develop the musical skills and confidence needed to become NOYO Members.

The National Open Youth Orchestra is currently delivered through four regional NOYO Centres: London NOYO Centre, in partnership with Barbican and Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Bournemouth NOYO Centre, in partnership with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Bristol NOYO Centre, in partnership with Bristol Beacon, and Birmingham NOYO Centre, in partnership with Midlands Arts Centre, Services For Education and B:Music.

The National Open Youth Orchestra is a programme by Open Up Music (Registered Charity No1167028). Open Up Music is supported using public funding by Arts Council England. The National Open Youth Orchestra is also generously supported by founding sponsor ABRSM, and trusts including Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Boshier-Hinton Foundation, The Steel Charitable Trust, The Radcliffe Trust, The Starfish Trust, Borrows Charitable Trust and The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust.

The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (RWCMD)

Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama attracts the best creative talent from across the globe. As Wales’ national conservatoire, we fire imagination and drive innovation, offering training to almost 1000 actors, musicians, designers, technicians and arts managers from more than 40 countries. Our students’ extraordinary talent and potential is fused with exceptional teaching and unrivalled industry links, to bring dreams to life. A space for everyone, creative ambition and collaboration are central to our excellence.

Our students are immersed in a live industry environment from the moment they arrive. With some of Wales’ most prestigious venues, we operate a dynamic arts centre, and our performance programme of world class professionals is integral to students’ training.

We nourish our future professionals so they push new boundaries and make their mark in the creative industries, aspiring to brilliant careers. The future starts here.

The College is the first UK conservatoire to achieve a gold standard level of quality assurance across Music, Drama and Under 18s in the recent international Musique, Music Quality Enhancement review. Reviewers were particularly impressed with the College’s approach to the individual student experience, multidisciplinary collaboration, and overall ambition, citing RWCMD as a shining example of best practise across European conservatoires, and reflecting the College’s exceptional people and unique community.

BBC National Orchestra of Wales

For over 90 years, BBC National Orchestra of Wales has played an integral part in the cultural landscape of Wales, occupying a distinctive role as both broadcast and national symphony orchestra. Part of BBC Wales and supported by the Arts Council of Wales, it performs a busy schedule of live concerts throughout Wales, the rest of the UK and the world. The orchestra is an ambassador of Welsh music and champions contemporary composers and musicians.

The orchestra performs annually at the BBC Proms and biennially at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, and its concerts can be heard regularly across the BBC: on Radio 3, Radio Wales and Radio Cymru.

BBC NOW works closely with schools and music organisations throughout Wales and regularly undertakes workshops, side-by-side performances and young composer initiatives to inspire and encourage the next generation of performers, composers and arts leaders.

During the recent lockdowns, BBC NOW has continued to record and film behind closed doors at BBC Hoddinott Hall and has produced videos, soundtracks and weekly digital concerts that have been seen by 14 million people globally, including an extremely popular video of the Doctor Who soundtrack! Plans for the orchestra include live-streamed concerts and events, tours to different communities throughout Wales and education and community development schemes to include everyone in music making.

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