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NYJO Board Changes: The Start of a New Era

28th September 2020

The NYJO board will undergo a comprehensive reshuffle, with pianist/composer and leading jazz educator, Nikki Iles, and business psychologist and author, Clive Lewis OBE, joining the team in early 2021.

The appointment of Nikki Iles is doubly advantageous, given her experience as both a professional musician and educator – straddling both of the arts organisation’s two primary pathways. Nikki has worked with NYJO in a variety of ways over the years, most recently having performed on their upcoming album “She Said”, a release NYJO hopes will successfully champion a host of expressive female voices, across multiple generations.

I am delighted and honoured to be joining the NYJO board in 2021. It is an organisation that has been close to my heart, having a long musical association with them for nearly 10 years.” She continued, “Within a changing climate, NYJO has been evolving with an impressive expansion of its opportunities for young musicians. In these uncertain times there are a host of big challenges, but it is also a chance for new ideas to flourish and I’m really excited to work with the team.”

In the case of Clive Lewis OBE, the professional mediator will actually be re-joining the NYJO board, having served in an initial spell between 2011-2015. “I’m delighted to join the board of National Youth Jazz Orchestra for the second time”, he said recently, “I’m particularly keen to support the organisation’s objective of bringing jazz to more disadvantaged communities.”

Back in 2016, as a member of the Board of Governors at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), Clive set up the “Bridge Builders Mentoring Scheme”, which connected pupils from lower socio-economic backgrounds with business mentors – providing them with mentoring, training and work placement opportunities. More recently, as founder and CEO of the Globis Mediation Group, Clive was
responsible for writing a short paper that sought to help organisations react effectively to the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter Movement, entitled “Fixing Broken Windows”.
NYJO’s new Finance Trustee – who will begin with immediate effect – is a Chartered Accountant and jazz pianist, Alex Spofforth. Alex is passionate about providing help, support and opportunities for musicians at all stages of their lives. A senior trustee at Help Musicians UK, he works with clients who are reliant on the gig economy and are eager to gain more autonomy over their careers.

Stepping down after many decades of diligent, unpaid service between them; Gordon Silver, Jack Fallow and Ted Rockley will make way for the new recruits to bring their own ideas and points of view to the roles. Keen to ensure he remains a part of the family, and with reverence to his role in transforming NYJO’s finances during his tenure, Gordon Silver is elected as Trustee Emeritus.

Jack and Ted have been a huge part of NYJO’s success for over 30 years. You could have regularly found them both at the original NYJO Academy every Saturday, back in the days before the orchestra had a single staff member to rely on. Their massive contributions can be felt in almost every aspect of the organisation today. “I am proud to have been part of helping NYJO grow from being a London focused big band into a national youth jazz organisation”, said Jack on his involvement over three decades, “NYJO has nearly 100 educational relationships with local music hubs, operates with international partners, and now has a superb Virtual Academy online. I’m so proud to have contributed and to be able to now hand over to Orphy Robinson as Vice-Chair”.

Mirroring Jack’s sentiments, Ted was keen to look positively on his time spent with NYJO, “It has been a privilege to be associated with NYJO for so long and to serve on the board, and I am confident despite its many incredible achievements it’s best days lie ahead.” A final, but significant change comes from current board-member, multi-instrumentalist and British Jazz icon, Orphy Robinson MBE, who will become NYJO’s new ViceChair – taking over the senior position from Jack Fallow.

On the new role and its heightened responsibility, Orphy states: “I would like to thank my fellow trustees for their confidence in appointing me to the position of Vice-Chair. I am fully aware of the incredible amount of work undertaken throughout the organisation over the last decade. It is on us [the trustees] to provide direction and promote initiatives that will instigate meaningful change. We must do better to create access to first class music training, regardless of racial or socioeconomic background – especially at this time. I am heartened by the progress so far and eager to help continue that journey. I look forward to the future of NYJO with great hope and enthusiasm”.

Once fully installed, the 8-strong NYJO board will be the most diverse it has ever been. The charity has deliberately sought to vary the make-up of the group in both gender and ethnicity. As of 2021, 50% of board-members will be female and 3 of the 8, black. More appointments are expected over time to ensure that the organisation continues to lean on new perspectives and evolve its offering to match the expectations and demands of the next generation of musical talent.