National Youth Orchestra
In the summer of 1960, Walter Susskind and Harman Haakman directed a pilot workshop for young musicians in Stratford, Ontario. Its success and the subsequent support of several Toronto business people led to the formation of the National Youth Orchestra Association in 1960, a federally chartered, non-profit organization devoted to the discovery and training of accomplished young Canadian musicians.
The original function of the NYOC was to prepare a student orchestra for an annual cross-Canada tour. As time went on, however, the organization developed and elaborated its instructional program, becoming primarily a training body dedicated to perfecting the skills and talents of the best young Canadian musicians for careers as professional orchestral players through short but intensive summer session programs. The touring function of the orchestra, rather than being virtually the sole focus of the NYOC, remained a vital and integral part of a broader professional instructional program.
The NYOC’s concert tours have included every major Canadian city as well as occasional trips to the United States, Europe, and Asia. Each year, 90 to 100 youth are carefully selected from cross-Canada auditions of over 500 applicants to train with some of the greatest minds in professional music. These talented students train tirelessly for six weeks at the Western University before heading out on tour and recording a CD of the summer’s repertoire. In their 3-month residency, these students will receive more hours of practical orchestral training than most university programs offer in an entire year, completely free of tuition. NYOC has twice been awarded the World Youth Orchestra Conference’s “Best Youth Orchestra in the World” title, and was nominated for a 2009 Juno Award for Classical Album of the Year. Approximately 1 in 3 professional orchestral musicians in Canada are alumni of NYOC.
2012 marks the beginning of an exciting cross-cultural partnership with the India National Youth Orchestra. Phase one of this partnership welcomes four young string players from across India who have been invited to train alongside their Canadian peers throughout the duration of the NYOC program. The second part of this cultural initiative will take place in the spring of 2013; the NYOC will select members of their orchestra to travel to Delhi to participate in a collaborative mentoring program with the India National Youth Orchestra.
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