national Arts Festival Banner

Sunday, February 18, 2018


(The trumpet section of the National Youth Orchestra)

Deadline: Applications close on February 23, 2018.

Hundreds of young musicians are expected to apply to audition for a place in the prestigious green-and-gold symphonic team, the South African National Youth Orchestra.

Orchestras are formed each year at courses run in the holidays and comprise South Africa’s top young musical talent. Members include players from communities across the country chosen on merit through two auditions. The first is an anonymous recorded audition, after which a live audition is played behind-screen, in front of an expert audition panel.

The National Youth Orchestra has supported the training and development of South Africa’s young musicians through its courses and development programmes for over half a century. Its legacy is far-reaching with representation of alumni in top professional orchestras in South Africa, and indeed across the globe. The orchestra has performed with the likes of Archbishop Tutu, Sir James Galway, Sir Roger Norrington, Barbara Hendricks and Judith Sephuma, just to name a few.

This year the National Youth Orchestra boasts a whole series of courses and programmes for young orchestral musicians under the age of 25, which help to equip young people with the skills to perform in a professional musical environment and introduce them to a necessary network of fellow musicians.

In May, a selection of National Youth Orchestra musicians will play for Umculo’s production of Bach’s St John Passion, directed by acclaimed opera director and tenor, Kobie van Rensburg, in Johannesburg and three of our musicians will tour to Amsterdam for an incredible exchange programme with one of the world’s best orchestras, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

The National Youth Orchestra 2018 meets in Bloemfontein in the June/July holidays for its Winter Course; and in Pretoria and Johannesburg in August, in a historic partnership, the orchestra for 2018 will have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to have a side-by-side five-day Immersion Experience with the Grammy Award-winning Minnesota Orchestra, the first major American orchestra to tour to South Africa, and their internationally acclaimed conductor, Osmo Vänskä. Vänskä returns to South Africa for the first time since conducting our 50th anniversary concerts in 2014.

The Minnesota Orchestra will give master classes, the orchestras will play chamber music together, have a day of side-by-side rehearsals, and our young musicians will have the opportunity to expand their musical network, while learning from some of the best musicians in the world. As a bonus the young musicians will also attend one of the Minnesota Orchestra's performances on their tour that includes Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Soweto and Pretoria.

The December Summer Course for the ever-popular National Youth Wind Orchestra will be in Cape Town this year.

There are special projects including the What It Takes courses for individual instruments, arts administration internships, a Words on Music course for writers, and young composer projects, that run throughout the year.

These courses are filled with challenges and fun for the young musicians and open up a world of musical and other opportunities.

To make the courses open to all who wish to attend, bursaries, scholarships and payment plans are available. Applications are now open and can be completed online on their website at Young musicians wishing to apply must play an orchestral instrument, be of at least Grade 7 music level, be 25 years old or younger in 2018, and be a resident of South Africa.

Applications close on February 23, 2018.

As National Youth Orchestra patron Archbishop Tutu explains: “Music is important in the lives of young people, it is rare not to see a young person engrossed in music. The National Youth Orchestra is important because it opens up another world of music to the youth. It allows them to become makers of the music not just listeners. Youth in South Africa have so many opportunities available to them and my hope is that they are able to engage themselves fully in these opportunities.”

Anyone able to sponsor a young musician or contribute to the bursary fund in any way, should email Sophia on or call 083 2722 117. The NYO is grateful for support from the SABC Foundation, Academy of Sound Engineering and the Department of Arts and Culture who make the auditions possible.

"Thank you for such an amazing course. I had such a great time and you guys did so much for us all and really made it a once in a lifetime experience, and we have you to thank for the unique exposure that will truly NEVER be forgotten. It was so much fun and an even better way to send 2016 off with a bang!" – Giulio Beltramo (Violin), National Youth String Orchestra 2016.