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Mandela Day Concerts

Poster (Small)To celebrate Mandela Day, our symphonic green and gold national team, the National Youth Orchestra, will perform two concerts in Cape Town in July. The programme will include Mahler’s glorious Fifth Symphony, and Benjamin Britten’s seldom-heard Double Concerto for Violin and Viola, written when the composer was just 18. The orchestra will be led by the sensational Ewa Strusiñska, a finalist and laureate at the prestigious Gustav Mahler International Conducting Competition, and principal conductor and music director of the Szczecin Philharmonic Orchestra in Poland. The National Youth Orchestra is generously supported by the National Lotteries Commission, the Department of Arts and Culture and the Britten-Pears Foundation. Soloists for the concerto, drawn from within the orchestra’s ranks, are Samantha Durrant, Jonathan Mayer, Jeffrey Armstrong (violin),  and Erin Torres, Nicholas Fidler and Kgaugelo Mpyane (viola).

16 July – 19:00 Hugo Lambrechts Auditorium in Parow

The National Youth Orchestra teams up with Fine Music Radio, Pick n Pay, the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra and Hugo Lambrechts Music Centre to supply 67 radios to the Cape Town Society for the Blind. The radios, to be handed over on the night, are sponsored by Fine Music Radio listeners and Pick n Pay. Proceeds from the concert go towards the National Youth Orchestra’s bursary fund.

Tickets are R100-R120 and are available on Tixsa

17 July – 15:00 Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town
A grand benefit concert for the National Youth Orchestra’s bursary fund, in the sumptuous ballroom of Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel.

Tickets are R450 per person and are available online from Tixsa
This price includes canapés and drinks (and of course parking!)

Please contact the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel on 0214831000 about their special rate for overnight stays on the concert weekend.

mount_nelson_hotel_04The National Youth Orchestra nurtures the musical development of South Africa’s finest young musicians, from emerging gifted school-age students to those on the verge of a professional career.  The orchestra’s alumni have been placed in some of the best orchestras in the world, and they make up over 70% of the South Africans placed in our local professional orchestras. Proceeds from the concerts will go towards the National Youth Orchestra’s work with South Africa’s most talented young musicians.

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International exchange to Amsterdam


This week three of the best young South African orchestral musicians will embark on a journey to Amsterdam to spend a week with the world famous Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO). This exchange programme is part of a partnership between the RCO, the KZN Philharmonic and the South African National Youth Orchestra.

Members of the RCO came to South Africa to give classes and workshops to the National Youth Orchestra, and during these workshops they identified the three musicians to represent South Africa on the exchange: Kamo Magau (22, a violinist from Bloemfontein), Samantha Durrant (23, a violinist from Cape Town) and Siyolise Nyondo (22, a double bassist from Bloemfontein).

“It is so rare, that at any time in one’s life, an exciting opportunity like this comes about. It is even more encouraging when it happens at the start of one’s career. I am so truly humbled,” says Samantha Durrant.

exchangeKamo Magau had this to say about the opportunity: “I’m incredibly excited to learn as much as I possibly can from such exceptional musicians. To be able to say that I have been coached by some of the best musicians in the world is not only an honour, but a privilege.”

During their stay in the Netherlands, the musicians will have hours of master classes, learn from rehearsals with the orchestra, visit art galleries, and perform in a concert at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. They will discover what life is like as a professional musician in one of the best orchestras in the world, and the exchange will help them jumpstart their professional careers.

“This is a fantastic learning opportunity for our young artists. The great thing about this exchange is that these artists will come back to South Africa and share the skills that they have learned with their fellow students,” says Bongani Tembe, CEO of the KZN Philharmonic.

The travel for the three young musicians has generously been sponsored by KLM and the Royal Embassy of the Netherlands.

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Chamber Music for Change!

The South African National Youth Orchestra is on a big hunt for current orchestra members and alumni, parents and teachers and classical music lovers who would be keen to play in, organise or provide venues for their “Chamber Music for Change” campaign. These chamber music concerts are planned to raise funds for bursaries for orchestra courses in 2016. The aim is to do 52 concerts, one for each year since the National Youth Orchestra started, and raise enough to cover bursaries for one year.

“I am interested in being part of the Chamber Music for Change project that will help raise funds for bursaries. When I needed a bursary last year the SANYO team were able to help me so I find it just to help others who may be in a position I was in.”
TM, Potchefstroom


We’d love every young South African musician, regardless of financial or geographical barriers, to be able to attend National Youth Orchestra programmes this year. Your sponsorship of a musician will contribute to continued musical excellence, quality education and national development. A bursary for a musician costs R5000 and to cover their transport to and from the course is an additional R2000. It is a life-changing contribution for each young musician as it links them up to opportunities to further their career, gives access to the best teaching in the world and, perhaps most importantly, gives them the joy of playing in the National Youth Orchestra.

So far concerts are planned in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Pretoria, Potchefstroom, Johannesburg and internationally in Birmingham (UK), New York (USA) and Gothenburg (Sweden).

An online campaign to raise funds has been set up on Givengain for donors who’d like to contribute to the cause:

The South African National Youth Orchestra was founded in 1964 with the goal of training and developing South Africa’s young musician through a series of national courses, national and international tours, workshops and master classes. The South African National Youth Orchestra has taken part in the International Festival of Youth Orchestras and has toured to Scotland, countries across Europe where they performed at prestigious festivals such as the Beethovenfest in Bonn, and even a performance on the Red Square in Moscow. It has been conducted by many international conductors and has had the privilege of sharing the stage with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a performance that was reported on on BBC Worldwide News.

For more information on the Chamber Music for Change concerts, please contact:

South African National Youth Orchestra Foundation

Sophia Welz

email: | mobile: +27 83 272 2117



Applications open for 2016

Audition for the National Youth Orchestras 2016


Hundreds of young musicians are expected to apply to audition for a place in the prestigious South African National Youth Orchestra.

The orchestra is formed each year at the National Youth Orchestra Courses and comprises the top talent of young South African musicians. Members include players from communities all over the country, and are chosen on merit through two auditions. The first of these is an anonymous recorded audition after which a live audition played behind-screen, in front of an expert audition panel.  The South African National Youth Orchestra has supported the training and development of South Africa’s young musicians nationally through its courses and development programmes for nearly half a century. Its legacy is far reaching with representation of alumni in top professional orchestras in South Africa and across the globe.

This year the Foundation boasts a whole series of Nationals courses and programmes for young orchestral musicians between the ages of 13 and 25 that have attained a minimum Grade 7 music level.The courses help to prepare young people with the skills to perform in a professional musical environment, and introduce them to a necessary network of fellow musicians.

The annual Winter Course in Cape Town 11-17 July 2016 (where the National Youth Orchestra will perform Mahler’s Fifth Symphony), is an intensive programme filled with challenges and fun for the National Youth Orchestra and National Youth Concert Orchestra.

The advanced National Youth Wind Orchestra and National Youth String Orchestra course is this year’s Summer Course in Johannesburg from 8-17 December 2016.

Audition dates:
22 and 24 Feb: Cape Town, venue TBC
23 Feb: Stellenbosch at the Stellenbosch Konservatorium​
26 Feb and 5 March: Johannesburg at the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra Company​ at the University of Johannesburg
27 Feb and 7 March: Pretoria at the Department of Music at the University of Pretoria
27 Feb: Durban at the Durban Music School​
29 Feb and 1 March: Port Elizabeth at the NMMU Department of Music​
3 March: Bloemfontein at the University of the Free State​
4 March: Potchefstroom at the NWU School of Music & Conservatory​


To make the courses open to all who qualify to attend, bursaries, scholarships and payment plans are available. Applications are now open, and can be completed online on their website at Applications close on Friday 12 February 2016. Young musicians wishing to apply must play an orchestral instrument, be of ­at least Grade 7 music level and be resident in Southern Africa.

Tutu orchestra


When the National Youth Orchestra performed Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra with none other than Archbishop Desmond Tutu as narrator, he had this to say: “Music is important in the lives of young people, it is rare not to see a young person engrossed in music. The National Youth Orchestra is important because it opens up another world of music to the youth. It allows them to become makers of the music not just listeners. Youth in South Africa have so many opportunities available to them and my hope is that they are able to engage themselves fully in these opportunities.”

The National Youth Orchestra courses create exciting performance opportunities for young musicians to interact with music professionals, both nationally and internationally, and are the perfect way for finding pathways to professional careers, bringing people together, and forging lifelong friendships.

A big thank you to the National Lotteries Commission for making our work possible.

Poster - Auditions Applications - 2016


National Youth Orchestra to warm up winter in Potchefstroom


Warm Your Heart PosterPotchefstroom. – In the heart of the winter the South African National Youth Orchestra Foundation, will be hosting their annual winter course from the 27 June – 2 July in Potchefstroom. During this winter course the musicians will be practicing under the guidance of South African conductor Matheu Kieswetter, and Norwegian conductor, Bjørn Breistein.

The aim of this winter course is for young South African musicians to network with the international musical community, meet each other and learn about diverse cultures, and discover the pure joy of orchestral music.

Caryn Pretorius“I can’t wait to see old friends again! I am excited about the Nationals experience and I would do it every day of the year if I could.” – Caryn Pretorius (19), a horn player from Port Elizabeth who will be attending this year’s Wind Orchestra course.

This winter course is proudly sponsored by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, Artéma and North West University. One of the orchestra members will also have the opportunity of receiving a Pukki-bursary from the North West University to the value of R 20, 000.

The winter course will be concluded with the Warm Your Heart concerts, which will be held in Potchefstroom on the 2 July and at The Orbitin Braamfontein on the 3 July. Tickets for these events are available on SANYOF’s website:

The National Youth Orchestra invites music enthusiasts to come and experience the exceptional talent South Africa has to offer in these exhilarating performances.