AYO Chief Executive Officer Colin Cornish reflects on why AYO matters to him, our participants and the future of Australian orchestral music.

As we continue to navigate these incredibly challenging times, I am reminded of the many reasons why the Australian Youth Orchestra matters to me; and why our programs and performances matter to our participants, our friends and audiences across the country. I am also reminded why the AYO matters when it comes to the future of Australian orchestral music.

I am proud of all we have achieved together so far thanks to the continuing support of our AYO community. AYO alumni account for more than 65% of musicians in Australia’s professional orchestras, while many more are performing as freelance experts or teaching across the nation and internationally. Other alumni have taken their skills as talented musicians to diverse careers that connect our communities and inspire our future generations of young artists.

The Australian Youth Orchestra exists to empower all Australians with inspiration, knowledge and a love for music. Each year we engage with over 500 musicians on the cusp of a professional career and more than 3,000 music students in classrooms across all of Australia. We connect young people with the best music training programs and with each other, allowing them to learn, innovate and grow as emerging artists and young adults.

AYO matters to me because these opportunities matter to them.

At this difficult time for so many Australian artists and arts organisations, our heart goes out to our AYO participants who are navigating new hurdles as they aspire to a professional career as an artist of the 21st century. The opportunity to connect with like-minded people through live orchestral music experiences has become more precious and important to so many of us than ever before, especially our young students who crave these opportunities to hone their skills on the cusp of a career in music.

In knowing this, we are committed to continuing to offer ways for our students and audiences to connect and make music together in the digital world in the coming weeks and months; ensuring we can continue to extend the invaluable impact of our programs well into the future.

I am so appreciative to the musicians and alumni below who have shared their own personal reflections about why AYO matters to them. Through these messages, you will hear first-hand the opportunities you can help continue to make possible through your support.

Your gift to AYO today matters to our participants because it helps make their dreams a reality.  

From the power of quality music education in the classroom, the chance to represent the nation on the world stage on international tour, to the opportunity to bring Australia’s best musicians together to create, innovate and grow through our programs, every dollar is valued. There is no Australian Youth Orchestra without your support.

Thank you for the role you play in helping the AYO as we navigate this challenging time and continue to train, inspire and empower our future generations of young musicians. I urge you to join me and give as generously as you can to AYO today to help us safeguard the opportunities, ambition and future of our orchestral music ambassadors of tomorrow.

With best wishes,


Colin Cornish
Chief Executive Officer
Australian Youth Orchestra

We would love to hear why AYO matters to you.
To share your story, please get in touch with myself or the AYO team.


Contact us

To donate over the phone, or to share why AYO matters to you, contact

Roxy Kavanagh, Director of Development
Phone: 03 8420 5710
Email: RoxyKavanagh@ayo.com.au

All gifts above $2 are fully tax-deductible.

There is no Australian Youth Orchestra without your support.

Every gift matters, regardless of the size.
ABN 42 004 355 739

Support the AYO Journey | AYO Giving Areas

AYO Priorities

Sustain the quality and reach of our unique training pathways by allowing us to allocate your gift to an area of greatest need today.

AYO Scholarships

Transform a young musician's life and allow our most gifted musicians experiencing financial hardship to access the same opportunities as their peers through AYO Scholarship support.

International Touring Program

Empower Australia’s best young musicians with the opportunity of a lifetime, representing the nation as cultural ambassadors on the world stage.

Orchestral Pathways

Connect Australia’s best young musicians with the country’s leading music training programs, and each other by supporting programs like National Music Camp, Young Symphonists, AYO seasons, and Momentum Ensemble.

Innovation and Community Fund

Inspire AYO participants and audiences to explore music in new and diverse ways, including online learning programs, Momentum Ensemble in-school residencies in disadvantaged schools, the creation of new music, and innovative learning opportunities for 21st century artists.

National Music Teacher Mentoring Program

Create opportunities for every child to access quality music education in the classroom across remote, regional, and metropolitan Australia.

Why AYO Matters to oboists Huw and Ruby

As we connect from numerous parts of the world, now more than ever we are seeking a sense of togetherness and being reminded what matters to us. In the video below AYO alumnus and tutor Huw Jones and young oboist Ruby Khuu share why the Australian Youth Orchestra matters to them.



AYO Matters to Us | Support AYO today

It has been heartening to receive your messages and support so far, and to see the different ways AYO has impacted the lives of so many young musicians, professional artists and audiences around the country. In the above video, we share some of these personal reflections.



AYO matters to our community

Over the past month we’ve received a fantastic response from our community of musicians, alumni, tutors, audience members and supporters. It’s wonderful to hear such fond memories of how the AYO experience has impacted each person. See their messages in the above video.



"AYO matters to me because these opportunities matter to them"

“I have made friends with people from across Australia, who are some of the best musicians my age in the country. The tutors inspire me, they are such icons. The programs have an amazing positive musical atmosphere. Sharing this with my colleagues, and then giving this experience to all the people in the audience has taken my knowledge, and love for music to another level. Thank you.”

— AYO oboist Ruby Khuu, 16 years old.



"The Australian Youth Orchestra provided me with the confidence to enter into professional work"

“I am grateful for the recent opportunity to give back to the next generation as an AYO tutor. I was amazed by all the young people there as I watched them collaborate with other musicians from around the country. When I was a young musician the Australian Youth Orchestra provided me with the confidence to enter into professional work, as it bridges that gap between school and tertiary study and the professional world. This is something unique to the AYO—this is why the AYO matters to me.”

—AYO tutor and alumnus Huw Jones, Section Principal Oboe, Queensland Symphony Orchestra