The Opera North Youth Orchestra is a pre-professional ensemble in the North of England for career-minded instrumentalists aged 16 – 21 and serves to help transition from further or higher education into the professional world of music.

Drawing inspiration from the orchestral and opera work of Opera North, the Youth Orchestra will prepare and perform two programs of challenging repertoire each academic year. Rehearsing in the Orchestra of Opera North rehearsal space, the Youth Orchestra will provide opportunities to learn the musical and non-musical intricacies of working within a high-level orchestra whilst furthering knowledge of orchestral and operatic repertoire.

Members will benefit from mentorship from the musicians and artistic team of Opera North, in addition to connecting with a variety of professional orchestral and opera conductors. The Opera North Youth Orchestra is designed to complement participants’ existing study schedule, rehearsing on selected weekends over a two month programme period twice per academic year.

The orchestra welcomes talented instrumentalists from across the North of England and beyond.

£240 per year*
  • Howard Opera Centre

How to apply
Apply to audition here by Monday 5 July. See ‘Application & audition’ for further details on application process.

Individual Audition Excerpts
Please see the individual audition excerpts below:
Woodwind Audition Excerpts
Brass Audition Excerpts
Percussion Audition Excerpts
String Audition Excerpts
Harp Audition Excerpts

Audition dates
Live Zoom auditions will be held between 10am –1pm on Saturday 17 July. You will be allocated a specific time slot after applications have closed.

Any questions?
Please get in with touch with Youth Orchestral Manager Emma Barnett at or on 07970463172.

*Bursaries and payment plans available. Find full details in FAQs below.

Application & audition

Membership to the Opera North Youth Orchestra is by audition each year. Applicants should be comfortable with the repertoire and technical work at grade 8 standard or higher.
The audition will comprise of 2 parts:

  1. An AV recording of a solo piece of your choosing to be submitted with your application form.
  2. A live zoom audition and informal interview on Saturday 17 July.

AV Recording

The solo piece is of your choosing, and should be a piece you enjoy playing. It can be a movement or excerpt from a concerto, a sonata or a solo piece. Your piece could be an accompanied or unaccompanied work, but accompaniment is not necessary for your recording.

Where possible, it should be a piece originally written for the instrument. Recordings should be both audio and visual. Please introduce yourself, your instrument and the work you will be playing at the beginning of the recording.

You do not need to record on any special equipment, a laptop, phone or tablet will do. Please make sure that we can see all of you and your instrument clearly in the video. You can record your piece for as many times as you like before submitting it. Please make sure the filename of your recording is saved in the following format: FirstnameLastname_Instrument.

Zoom audition

Once you have applied, you’ll be given a time for a live Zoom audition on Saturday July 17. For this part of the audition, you will be asked to prepare three prescribed excerpts from the orchestral repertoire for their instrument, which will be sent out with the details of your Zoom audition.

You will be asked to play one or all of these excerpts during the zoom call. Wind players will also have the option of presenting an additional prescribed doubling instrument excerpt. (Piccolo, cor anglais, bass clarinet, contrabassoon). These excerpts form an important part of the audition and applicants should ensure that they are well known and prepared.

Your audition panel will be made up of two players from the Orchestra of Opera North – they’re a friendly bunch! We believe everyone should have the chance to develop their practice and performance skills, and have a positive audition experience, whatever the outcome.

Applicants will also be asked to sight-read a short piece or excerpt.

All applicants will receive verbal feedback during the audition; those who are unable to be offered a place may receive additional brief written feedback after the audition period has ended.

Rehearsal dates

The Opera North Youth Orchestra Season will be split into two programmes of each season. Rehearsals will be held on Sundays from 10.30am – 4.00pm at the Howard Opera Centre in Leeds. Opera North Youth Orchestra members will be expected to attend all rehearsals unless in the event of illness.

Autumn Term

  • Sunday October 3
  • Sunday October 17
  • Sunday October 31
  • Sunday November 14
  • Sunday November 28
  • Sunday December 5: Performance

Winter Term 

  • Sunday January 9
  • Sunday January 23
  • Sunday February 6
  • Sunday February 20
  • Sunday March 6
  • Sunday March 13: Performance

Frequently asked questions

Outstanding young musicians, aged 16 – 21 from the north of England and beyond who play an orchestral instrument at grade 8 level or higher.

  • Strings: Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass
  • Woodwind: Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon
  • Brass: Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Tuba
  • Percussion

We encourage applications from those who simply love playing their instrument to a high standard, as well as those who want to build ensemble skills for a professional life as a musician.

Auditions can be nerve-wracking, so we aim to make ours fun and informal, helping you to perform at your best and get the most out of the audition experience.

We are keenly aware of the limitations and difficulties that recording your playing or playing over Zoom presents but we want to make sure its possible for lots of people to audition without having to navigate changing government restrictions.

You can record your piece for submission as many times as you like. We are not as worried about playing perfection as we are keen to see your musical ability. Your audition panel will be made up of two players from the Orchestra of Opera North (they’re a friendly bunch!).

We believe everyone should have the chance to develop their practice and performance skills, and have a positive audition experience, whatever the outcome.

We want to ensure that costs do not create a barrier to taking part and are able to offer bursary places to successful applicants from families in challenging circumstances. Please indicate on your application form if you would like to be considered for a bursary place.

It is also possible to split the cost into multiple instalments, please get in touch with Youth Orchestral Manager Emma Barnett at to find out more.

Membership of the orchestra relies on 100% commitment to the rehearsal schedule. In the case there is a date conflict this should be indicated upon acceptance of place.

Howard Opera Centre, Opera North, Harrison St, Leeds LS16NU

Opera North Youth Orchestra

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