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Home » History


Half a century of achievements

Fifty years of commitment to young musicians has made the South African National Youth Orchestra Foundation one of South Africa’s most successful music institutions.  The Foundation supports the training and development of South Africa’s young musicians through national courses, national and international tours and workshops, and networks nationally to assist all youth orchestra programmes to function optimally.

The early pioneers – Korie Koornhof, Betty Pack, Arthur Wegelin and Paul Loeb van Zuilenburg, the SA Society of Music Teachers and the first conductor, Leo Quayle, who taught 65 children under the trees at the Hartbeespoort Dam – would be happy with what they see today.

In 1975 the SA National Youth Orchestra took part in the International Festival of Youth Orchestras in Aberdeen, followed by a short tour of Europe three years later. In 1979, Sasol came on board as a founding partner of the National Youth Orchestra Foundation to provide infrastructure and organisational skills. Sasol remains its committed partner to this day, providing sponsorship for the annual youth orchestra course and its development initiatives.

Development, Courses, Conductors Youth Orchestras & International Acclaim

The Foundation holds courses around the country with tutelage by some of South Africa’s best teachers, and with international conductors such as Alberto Bolet, Sir Roger Norrington, Bernhard Gueller, Gerard Korsten, Omri Hadari, Alexander Rahbari, Conrad van Alphen, and Laszlo Marosi on the podium.

Under the management of Dorothy van de Geest and with the help of her husband, Professor Gerard van de Geest, the National Youth Orchestra reached unprecedented levels, performing in Scotland, across Europe and on the Red Square in Moscow. Before her untimely death, Dorothy introduced support for Development Initiatives to the programmes, an initiative her successors, Faan and Kim Malan embraced and expanded. For the first time, in 2004, a development workshop was held during the course, resulting in a Junior Orchestra course in Kimberley, which attracted more than 100 beginner musicians to learn about the basics of orchestral music. The aim of the course, attended by 147 young musicians in 2005, is to assist organisations in training students to the level whereby they can attend the National Youth Orchestra course.

The Foundation was also instrumental in the creation of the Field Band Foundation, which has grown into a nationwide initiative enabling 5000 young people to enhance their lives through music and movement.

While the Youth Orchestra Foundation continues to grow musicians into orchestral players, it is accelerating its development initiatives, assisting both established projects and introducing new initiatives nationally.


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