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Meet our Young Musicians

The Opera North Youth Orchestra has been set up to help talented young musicians transition into professional players by providing a unique glimpse into the workings of a high-level orchestra.

Having attracted young sixth formers and university students from across the north of England, the pre-professional ensemble recently played their inaugural concert at Leeds Conservatoire. We were intrigued to discover why they had auditioned for the ONYO in the first place.

“I was looking for an opportunity to be in a high class orchestra. That was quite limited around where I lived and I didn’t really enjoy the orchestras I played in. So when I heard that Opera North were auditioning for a youth orchestra, I wanted to be part of it. ”

– Alex, cello

“I did the summer academy and really liked that, so I checked if there were other opportunities to get involved with Opera North and auditioned for the Youth Orchestra. It’s more advanced than other orchestras I am involved in, we do more repertoire and play opera music which you don’t usually get the opportunity to do.”

– Holly, clarinet

The Opera North Youth Orchestra is open to young musicians at sixth form or university © Justin Slee

Being a member of the ONYO gives the young musicians a chance to play more challenging repertoire, to use the same rehearsal spaces as the Orchestra of Opera North, to be mentored by Opera North musicians and to work with professional conductors and singers.

“It’s been amazing to do and really really fun. I have really enjoyed playing harder music and being able to play with more advanced musicians as well. It’s been a great opportunity. And also working with different conductors and people who actually are out there in the music industry.”

– Bess, violin

“I have enjoyed working with other young musicians and different conductors. It’s been very helpful to progress with my own playing.”

– Anton, cello

“I have learned so much, particularly how to play better with other people.”

– Constance, flute

A pre-professional ensemble, the ONYO bridges the gap between education and playing professionally @ Justin Slee

One of the people who has been instrumental in setting up the Youth Orchestra and in guiding the members through the rehearsal process is Oliver Rundell,  ONYO Musical Director and Opera North Chorus Master. Why does he believe ensembles like this are important?

“Young players are the future of music – and we have to encourage people to play in orchestras and make music together as much as we possibly can. It’s good to be doing that at all levels, from school age to university students and even adults.

Byron Parish, one of the violin tutors who also plays in the Orchestra of Opera North, added:

“I enjoy the energy that young players bring and introducing new pieces to the next generation of players. I mean who knows Nielsen? But you bring it to them, you put it in front of them and they actually find it really cool and enjoy the music.”

Oliver Rundell conducting the Opera North Youth Orchestra © Justin Slee

The ONYO is open to all young musicians in sixth form or at university and playing at Grade 8 or above. Applications are currently open for the following instruments: oboe, clarinet, bassoon, french horn, tenor trombone, harp, violin, viola, cello, double bass. Anyone interested in applying should do so by Monday 2 May; auditions will be held on Sunday 22 May.

“Do it! It’s so much fun! Everyone is just so lovely and welcoming and you just get so much out of it.” 

– Alice, bassoon

Apply to audition


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