Musicians playing string instruments

Wednesday 22nd June, 2022

Thousands of stories and life-changing experiences. One AYO.

The Australian Youth Orchestra believes that talent is the only criteria for participation. As we turn the page to a new chapter, your support ensures we can continue to empower the next generation of young Australian musicians.


Bird’s eye view of a large orchestra rehearsing in Kenneth Myer Auditorium

Alexander Orchestra rehearsing in Kenneth Myer Auditorium at Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, under the baton of Brad Cohen

Violinist Julia Hill has taken part in AYO programs over four years, and singles out this year’s National Music Camp as a turning point in her mindset regarding a performance career: ‘Over the last few years I have been thinking, ‘Maybe I’ll have a portfolio career where I’m mainly a researcher and I perform on the side’, but camp this year was a big revelation for me. It helped me realise, ‘No, I want to perform, I’m going to work hard to get into an orchestra because this is what I really enjoy!

‘I feel like AYO has fixed something for me in some way… I remember saying to my friend and fellow musician Noah that we need to remember this feeling. If we’re ever questioning where we are career-wise, we need to think of AYO!’

AYO has provided transformative opportunities and pathways for talented young musicians for nearly 75 years. In April this year, over 200 musicians across three orchestras filled the luminous acoustic of Melbourne Recital Centre’s Elisabeth Murdoch Hall, led by guest artists Kirsten Williams, Brad Cohen and Tzelaw Chan. The music continues on an epic scale in July, with renowned conductor Sir Mark Elder CH CBE leading 130 musicians through Richard Strauss’ momentous tone poem An Alpine Symphony in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

After the significant disruptions during the past two years, we’re more determined than ever that these programs continue for years to come.

‘It means so much to me that donors make this experience possible!’, cellist Noah Lawrence notes.

Bird’s eye view of the string sections of an orchestra rehearsing in Kenneth Myer Auditorium

Alexander Orchestra rehearsing in Kenneth Myer Auditorium at Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, under the baton of Brad Cohen

‘In 2022 I had the privilege of leading the Alexander Orchestra cello section. There is no other program I can think of that brings me this much joy. To be challenged in this way, in the company of such friendly and encouraging peers and staff, is the highlight of my year.’

For some participants, their experiences at AYO programs mark their first time playing with musicians and conductors of such an advanced level. ‘Growing up in regional area, I didn’t get to meet many really good musicians,’ violinist Robert Smith explains.

‘I was sixteen when I did my first AYO program, and I was overwhelmed by how amazing everyone was! Being in that environment really inspired me as I was finding my feet in how to play in an orchestra.’


Side view of a large orchestra rehearsing in a theatre studio space.

Bishop Orchestra rehearsing in a studio space at Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, under the baton of Tzelaw Chan


At National Music Camp this year, Robert was Principal Second Violin of the Bishop Orchestra- it seems an understatement now to say he found his feet!

Your generosity will allow us to continue to offer financial support to participants who otherwise would be unable to accept their offer. With your help, we can continue to empower the next generation of young Australian musicians- those whose stories are yet to be told.