Highlights by year

1975 the National Youth Orchestra took part in the International Festival of Youth Orchestras in Aberdeen, followed by a tour of Israel and Europe in 1978

1994 the SA NYO hailed as one of the leading youth orchestras in the world and, as a result, performances were broadcast by the BBC
the SA NYO participated in a mass concert on the Red Square, Moscow. The spectacular performance was televised worldwide.

2006 the SA NYO toured to Germany to participate in the prestigious Beethoven Fest in Bonn, where it was described as one of the best youth orchestras that had ever performed at the festival.

2010 The National Youth Orchestra:Strings participated in the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, and the NYO was led by a female conductor, Ewa Strusińska, for the first time.

2011 Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu narrates the Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra by Benjamin Britten.

2012 the National Youth Orchestra performs in an opera for the first time with the ground breaking Umculo|Cape Festival production of Purcell’s The Fairy Queen in Johannesburg and Cape Town and got to perform with jazz goddess Judith Sephuma.

2013 the NYO tours South Africa with Sir Roger Norrington and the Zurich Chamber Orchestra with NYO alumnus Robert Pickup (clarinet). We received standing ovations at every concert.
The NYO performs on the Main at the National Arts Festival for the first time with alumnus and acclaimed conductor Gérard Korsten returning to the podium. In 2013 we embarked on a nationwide tour with Sir Roger Norrington conducting the South African National Youth Orchestra playing alongside the Zurich Chamber Orchestra and with our alumnus Robert Pickup as clarinet soloist. We received standing ovations at every concert. We ended off the year with a recording of a song by Jon Savage with alternative pop sensation Jimmy Nevis for 5FM‘s Mashlab and released the song “Reach Out” as a tribute to Nelson Mandela.

2014 We celebrated our 50th anniversary in style by starting a new programme WHAT IT TAKES where we collaborated with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic to bring a truly professional experience to our top young violinists, conductors and clarinetists. They had one-on-one classes with top professionals from across South Africa and the world and the conductors got the incredible opportunity to conduct the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra as part of their intensive training programme.

Instrument repair technician training update: Katlego Malapane, a young cellist from Johannesburg, got to do a three-month long string instrument-building course in Cremona, the home of the Stradivarius. We performed with Grammy Award-winning artists: conductor Osmo Vänskä (Minnesota Orchestra) and multi-instrumentalist Magnus Lindgren, as well as world famous soprano Barbara Hendricks in Cape Town at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, at the City Hall and then in Soweto at the iconic Regina Mundi Church.

2015 National Youth Orchestra members joined the Zurich Chamber Orchestra on a countrywide tour with Sir James Galway and the National Youth Orchestra entered into a music development partnership with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic.