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A History

Some Young Orchestras projects, including European Youth Music Week (EYMW), previously operated under the National Association of Youth Orchestras (NAYO), which closed in March 2010.  EYMW, originally the Anglo German Youth Music Week, ran just over 30 years, supported by Internationaler Arbeitskreis fur Musik (IAM) and the former National Association of Youth Orchestras (NAYO).

Young Orchestras has traded as since 1 April 2011, with the original primary intention of continuing European Youth Music Week and its associated alumni orchestra, The Rochford Ensemble.  However, the Board of Directors who established the CIC recognised the potential for further opportunities involving music and young people.

The 40th anniversary of EYMW was held in Stouridge, which continues with the support of Young Orchestras and IAM.  The Rochford Ensemble continued until 2016, with the final concert lead by the original founder of the Anglo German Youth Music Week, Jeff Babb at the age of 89, and current Director of Young Orchestras and EYMW conductor Keith Horsfall.

The Rochford Ensemble met annually in the Welsh border town of Hay-on-Wye, usually in the first weekend of October for a full weekend of orchestral music making with members of the music week orchestras, both past and present.  The concert was part of the Hay-on-Wye Music Festival and provided the opportunity to rehearse and perform together; a well-regarded social occasion by all involved.

Many current and former EYMW musicians continue to have the opportunity for musical experiences with ensembles led by EYMW staff outside of Young Orchestras.

In 2018, European Youth Music trialled a project that brought together young refugees and asylum-seekers from across England and invited them to take part in our European Youth Music Week. The young refugees formed a choir and performed a choral piece specifically composed for them, alongside the European Youth Music Week symphony orchestra, in Leicester Cathedral. Similar to EYMW, this endeavor reflected the same ethos of international friendship through high quality music making.

Choral trainers in Bristol, Birmingham and Leicester carried our rehearsals with young refugees and asylum-seekers who now live in England. Choir members then joined European Youth Music Week in Oakham (near Leicester). They spent the week rehearsing different music, the new choral piece and learning new skills through music, including improving their English. Mid-week the choir and the orchestra rehearsed together for the first time. The final performance took place in Leicester Cathedral in front of friends and the local community of Leicester.

The pilot project was targeted at refugees and asylum seekers aged between 16 and 30 from all over England. This continues to be replicated across the country, creating a network of choirs that will regularly come together to perform as a national youth choir. This was recreated in Ede in the Netherlands in 2019, working with refugees based in Germany.

Founder Jeff Babb sadly passed away in March 2020. Nearly 50 years later, EYMW still maintains the same principles and unique opportunities; creating international friendship through the challenge of high quality orchestral and chamber music making.

History: About Us
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History in the Making

After the success with the EYM Refugee Choirs in 2018 and 2019, we launched European Youth Music Community Choirs.

With the EYMW course being held in Portugal for the first time in 2021 we are offering the chance to young people and the local Portuguese community to sing alongside the EYMW Orchestra.

2021 will see the first year with our new Portuguese partner BTUIN, with the course being held in Vila Nova de Famalicão, Portugal.

In 2022 we are celebrating 50 years of international friendship through music making. We are inviting previous members to join us at Oakham School, England for our special celebration!

This will be reunion of members from 2021 all the way back to the days of the original Anglo-German Music with Jeff Babb.

This will run alongside European Youth Music Week giving you the opportunity to meet young musicians from across the globe, following in your footsteps in 2022.

"Through its current main European Youth Music Week project, Young Orchestras offers unique experiences for young musicians from across the globe. Its founding principles of international friendship and understanding combined with the highest quality of music making sets it apart from other summer music courses. These principles are key to everyone involved and to the design and implementation of our projects.

Long standing international partnerships, and friendships, with organisations and people are thus embedded in the way that Young Orchestras operates.

Such sentiments drive our planning to extend the founding principles of the original Anglo-German Youth Music Week to a contemporary setting, involving young refugees from around the world to establish a European Refugee Youth Choir.

Music can be the most wonderful and effective catalyst for bringing people together. I am very proud to work with my fellow Directors of Young Orchestras, colleagues based in other countries and, of course, the young people themselves."

Keith Horsfall, a Director of Young Orchestras

History: About Us
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