Skip to content

Musical journeys: unique national youth orchestra returns for its fifth year in Leeds to launch new season

18th July 2019

Orchestras for All (OFA) is delighted to be returning to Leeds this summer with its innovative and ground-breaking UK-wide programme for young people aged 11-18: the National Orchestra for All.

Members of the National Orchestra for All (NOFA) are not auditioned or charged fees. Instead they are nominated by their music teacher or school, local Music Hub, carer or social worker for showing dedication and commitment to music in the face of challenging circumstances. 100 young people are selected each year from across the UK, each facing barriers to accessing music in their local area: many live with disabilities or chronic health conditions, have caring responsibilities for family, are newly arrived refugees or come from areas where they simply wouldn’t be able to afford to participate in music without NOFA. Performing, learning and playing music together has been proven by leading academics to have a huge impact on young people, developing social skills, team work and confidence. Orchestras for All aims to ensure all young people aged 11-18 can access these life-changing opportunities.

Our Summer Course (4-7 August 2019) marks the start of the 2019-2020 season, entitled My Roots, Our Routes, exploring the music that underpins human migrations and journeys. During the four-day residential summer course members of NOFA will explore music that itself has ‘travelled’. Under the baton of Opera North’s Orchestral Education Leader Justin Fung, the musicians will rehearse pieces that are rooted in tradition and place, but have subsequently become something else at the hands of their composers.

NOFA’s Summer Course repertoire includes an orchestral suite arrangement of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Sibelius’s Karelia Suite and an arrangement of folk medleys from around the British Isles exploring how music evolves as it travels around the country. All of the music is specially created to cater for the needs of the orchestra, no matter their experience or skill level. A performance of this music will take place in the Great Hall, University of Leeds at 4pm on Wednesday 7 August.

Following the Summer Course, the nine-month season of residential courses will see the young musicians continue to share the music that has inspired and defined them. Through a series of workshops inspired by the phrase ‘From Here’, the young musicians will be equipped with leadership skills to teach each other the music that defines who they are and where they’ve come from. We also are delighted to be working with Lucy Hale, the winner of Orchestras for All’s inaugural young composer in residence competition who has been commissioned to create a brand new work alongside members of the orchestra to première at our season finale concert in April 2020.

Stuart Burns, OFA’s Executive Director, commented: “We are delighted to be returning to Leeds this year to launch our ninth season of work. As part of our My Roots, Our Routes season we are excited to celebrate the incredible diversity of our orchestra members, exploring the music that inspires them and represents who they are and where they are from. With members this year coming from all four nations of the UK, from Stornoway to Southwark, Pembrokeshire to Preston, we can’t wait to start the new season and kick off a year of creating, rehearsing and performing brand new music together.”