National Open Youth Orchestra

Group of disabled musicians playing classical concert led by a conductor
NOYO Live Performance Credit: Paul Underhill 2022

About NOYO

The National Open Youth Orchestra (NOYO) is a world-pioneering inclusive orchestra where brilliant 11-25 year-old disabled and non-disabled musicians rehearse and perform together.

This dynamic orchestra evolves annually, with twenty-five musicians coming together this year to present a broad programme of contemporary classical music.

There are five regional NOYO Ensembles, including Birmingham NOYO Ensemble.

Find out more

All National Open Youth Orchestra musicians have come through the ranks of five regional NOYO Ensembles, which are delivered through major partnerships:

  • Birmingham NOYO Ensemble, in partnership with Services For Education, B:Music and Midlands Arts Centre
  • London NOYO Ensemble, in partnership with Barbican and Guildhall School of Music & Drama
  • Bournemouth NOYO Ensemble, in partnership with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  • Bristol NOYO Ensemble, in partnership with Bristol Beacon
  • Cardiff NOYO Ensemble, in partnership with Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and BBC National Orchestra of Wales

They premiere original music written for them by cutting-edge composers and new arrangements of well-known pieces, reworked for the National Open Orchestra’s diverse group of musicians and instruments. Its sound innovatively blends acoustic, electronic and accessible instruments - some of which are not traditionally found in orchestras, such as the electric guitar or the accordion, and others unfamiliar, such as the LinnStrument, the Seaboard RISE or the ClarionTM, which some musicians play with eye or head movement.

Since its launch in 2018, the National Open Youth Orchestra and its partners have successfully established a programme for young disabled musicians to develop their skills at an advanced level, offering accessible ensemble practice and performance opportunities in five regions. Alongside young musicians, the orchestra has pushed the boundaries of contemporary classical music, inspiring composers with a new range of instrument sounds and showing it could help widen audiences for contemporary classical music through relaxed performances.

In 2023-24, there are 42 musicians rehearsing in NOYO Ensembles. Together, our mission is to show that combining high levels of inclusion and musical excellence isn’t just possible, but the way forward.

Join Birmingham NOYO Ensemble

Attend our Open Rehearsal

NOYO Ensembles are also the pathway to performing with the National Open Youth Orchestra. Once a year, NOYO Ensemble musicians can apply to audition for the National Open Youth Orchestra for the following year.

Applications to audition for Birmingham NOYO Ensemble open in February 2024.

You can also join our Open Rehearsal in-person or online to get a feel of what it's like rehearsing with us.

Open Rehearsal: Birmingham NOYO Ensemble
1-2pm on 24 February and 9 March 2024
Birmingham Symphony Hall, B1 2EA

Register your interest via our online form and read the Applicant's Information Pack below.

The Information Pack contains lots of information about the application and audition process. The word ‘audition’ can sound scary, but NOYO auditions are relaxed and friendly!

If you’re planning to apply this year, or are thinking about it for the future, sign-up to receive the NOYO newsletter and we’ll remind you when applications open.

NOYO Applicants' Information Pack

Watch NOYO members perform

NOYO members play The Umbrella, composed for the orchestra by Liam Taylor-West. The song won a British composer award in 2018.

The National Open Youth Orchestra is a programme of Open Up Music (Registered Charity No1167028). Open Up Music is an Arts Council National Portfolio organisation (NPO), and an Arts Council and Department for Education National Youth Music Organisation (NYMO). It is also generously supported by founding sponsor ABRSM, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Lightbulb Trust, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, The Rayne Foundation, John James Bristol Foundation, The Radcliffe Trust, D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust and Chapman Charitable Trust. Find out more about the National Open Youth Orchestra at

Get in touch to find out more

0121 446 3222