COVID-19 Update: Auditions for the Opera North Youth Orchestra are postponed until Government guidance allows students and non-professionals to be playing music together in an orchestral setting. In the meantime, please register your interest using our form above. We will contact you about any other relevant opportunities and orchestral projects we can run until we can hold auditions. 

The Opera North Youth Orchestra is a pre-professional ensemble in the North of England for career-minded instrumentalists, aged 16 – 21.

The Opera North Youth Orchestra serves as an ensemble 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 of Opera North, in addition to being led by 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.

£320 per year
  • Leeds City Academy, Quarry Hill Campus
  • Opera North Studios, Leeds

How to apply
Register your interest to audition here
Entry is through live audition (video applications may be accepted in some circumstances)

Any questions?
Please get in with touch with Orchestral Activity Manager Emma Barnett at or on 0113 223 3623

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: a group session and an opportunity to play to panelists individually.

In the group session, applicants will take part in an instrumental workshop led by members of the Orchestra of Opera North; through playing together as part of the group, applicants will receive guidance on aspects of instrumental technique, stylistic awareness and ensemble skills. The workshop session forms an integral part of the audition process and is designed to put the applicants at ease and to give the Opera North Orchestra members the opportunity to observe them in an ensemble playing situation.

Applicants will then be asked to perform one solo piece of their own choice to the audition panelThis can be a movement or excerpt from a concerto, a sonata or a solo piece. It can be from an accompanied or unaccompanied work, but accompaniment will not be provided or available in the audition. Where possible, it should be a piece originally written for the instrument.

In addition to the solo piece, applicants will be asked to prepare three prescribed excerpts from the orchestral repertoire for their instrument. Wind players will also have the option of presenting an additional prescribed doubling instrument excerpt. (Piccolo, Cor Anglais, Bass, Clarinet, Contra Bassoon). These excerpts form an important part of the audition and applicants should ensure that they are well known and prepared.

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

All applicants will receive verbal feedback during the workshop and 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 – 4.30pm in Leeds. 

Rehearsal seasons will be announced as restrictions are eased for playing orchestral music.

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


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.

Led by players from the Orchestra of Opera North (they’re a friendly bunch!) your audition will be in two parts:

· An informal instrumental workshop; playing pre-prepared orchestral excerpts and learning about working together as part of an orchestral section

· An individual audition with the same players from the Orchestra of Opera North

Everyone will benefit from feedback in the morning workshop on orchestral excerpts and receive insights on playing as part of an orchestra section. 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.

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.

Opera North Youth Orchestra

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