National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain

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S4 pupil Charlotte has successfully auditioned and been awarded a place at the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. After a lot of hard work Charlotte is looking forward to joining the orchestra. Charlotte has written about the audition experience and hopes to encourage others to audition too.

The National Youth Orchestra is labelled the world’s greatest orchestra of teenagers. It consists
of 164 young musicians selected from across the country. Competition is fierce and to get a
seat in the orchestra you must go through a rigorous audition process. I thought it might be
something I might be able to try for when I was much older. However, after taking part in NYO
Inspire last year I realised how positive and welcoming the NYO community is. I had nothing to
lose by trying and I did actually enjoy the whole audition process.
This year the first round of auditions was recorded. I had to prepare some seriously difficult
professional level orchestral excerpts along with two pieces. I played Brahms FAE Sonata and
the first movement of the Barber Violin Concerto. They were pieces that I had been working on
in the last year. I found out in July that I got through to the second round of auditions and
travelled to Manchester in September for a full assessment day.
It was such a good experience to travel again but I didn’t know how I felt about the audition. I
guess I was nervous about nerves getting to me. My worries all faded away when I arrived at
Chetams Music School. The NYO pastoral staff were on hand and making us feel as welcome as
ever and the atmosphere between the auditionees was friendly and supportive.
In my solo audition I played Bach Sarabande from Partita No2 in D minor and Brahms FAE
Sonata. I was then asked to play a selection of the orchestral excerpts we were asked to study.
At the end I was asked to play a Bartok excerpt with lots of string plucking and counting. I think
that was the decider as not everyone was asked to play it. I was then interviewed by a panel
including two of the NYO violin tutors. We discussed the orchestras that I have played in and
how things were musically during lockdown. They also asked me to explain what I thought was
my weakest excerpt. I answered honestly that it was the jumps in the Brahms excerpt.
In the last section of the audition we did some ensemble work. The auditionees had to take
turns in leading the excerpts and we were assessed on our ensemble skills. I was asked to lead
the Brahms! Luckily it went well for me -my time with ACMS chamber groups definitely helped.
I really enjoyed the whole audition day. It was fantastic to meet other violinists and play in
ensembles with other young and enthusiastic musicians. I thought that everyone sounded
fantastic and had no idea how the audition panel would decide.
The wait for results was less than two weeks but it felt like forever. At around 6.30pm on results
day I received the email I had been wishing for. The assessment team had been impressed by
my playing and ensemble skills and I was offered a place in the violin 2 section of the orchestra.
I have never been more excited and I am now looking forward to the first NYO residency which
begins on 30 December at Warwick University. We are playing Rachmaninoff Symphonic
Dances, Thomas Adès’ Dawn and Gabriela Lena Franks’ Three Latin American Dances. The
theme of this year’s NYO is “open up”. We hope to bring music to lots of young people as well
as the big performances in fantastic venues. I really hope we can spark an interest. What I
would say to any other young musician is to take a look at the NYO GB website If
you are eligible to apply for NYO Inspire it is a fantastic opportunity and a great way to enter
the NYO GB community.