The National Youth Orchestra was established in 1945 with its first performance in 1946; it has the distinction of being the first national youth orchestra in the world. As with all NYAW ensembles, the Orchestra develops a first-class training experience into performances that are full of energy and passion and works with esteemed, professional musicians to help deliver its key strategic aim of excellence.

Musicians are auditioned annually at audition centres across Wales with approximately 100 young musicians selected depending on the repertoire requirements.




In 2020 the Orchestra will work with the New Zealand-born conductor, Holly Mathieson, for the first time. Currently based in Glasgow, Holly regularly conducts a number of the major UK symphony orchestras, as well as working extensively across the world. She is Co-Artistic Director of the Nevis Ensemble.

As usual the orchestra will work with a first-class team of professional musicians in the early stages of the residency before going on to perform three concerts across Wales. As well as performances at the Prichard-Jones Hall in Bangor and a final concert at St David’s Hall, the Orchestra will once again close the Fishguard International Festival of Music at the stunning St Davids Cathedral.

In addition to rehearsing the main concert repertoire, members will have the opportunity to explore, rehearse and perform chamber music during the residency.



22nd July – 2nd August 2020

30th July: St Davids Cathedral (Fishguard International Music Festival)
1st August: Prichard-Jones Hall, Bangor
2nd August: St David’s Hall, Cardiff


Audition Fee £25
2020 NYOW Membership Fee £560

Your membership fee includes all tuition costs, accommodation, food and board, travel within the residency and social activities.   Please note that due to the generous support from our funders, National Youth Arts Wales subsidises a significant part of the costs of being a member of one of the national youth ensembles. 

We are keen to ensure that no-one is deterred from applying for the NYAW Ensembles for financial reasons. If you have a household income of less than £50k, you could be eligible for financial support. Visit NYAW BURSARY FUND for full information including how to claim help toward audition costs and membership fees.


  • NYAW accepts applications from people who live in Wales or were born in Wales.

  • The normal age range for the national youth arts ensembles is 16 to 22. For the 2020 courses participants must be aged between 16 and 22 on 31st August 2020. We may take younger participants into the ensembles where extraordinary talent is shown. This will be solely at the discretion of NYAW.

  • We particularly welcome applications from young people who engage in activities provided by the Music Service providers and who support activity at school / college and county level.

  • Applicants should normally be of grade 8 standard although they do not have to have taken their grade 8 exam at time of audition


NYOW auditions will take place throughout November 2019, visiting locations right across Wales. Those wishing to apply should complete the online application form where they will be able to select from a range of audition dates and locations.

All applicants will be invited to attend a 20-25 minute audition where you will be required to perform two pieces of music of your own choice, a selection of scales/technical exercises, a piece of sight-reading and excerpts of music to be prepared in advance.

Applicants will be notified of their audition results in December 2019. For detailed information on how to apply and what you need to prepare for auditions visit Auditions.