South African National Youth Orchestra Foundation

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South African National Youth Orchestra
Abbreviation SA NYO, NYO or Nationals
Formation 1964
Type National Youth Orchestra
Headquarters Cape Town & Pretoria, South Africa
Management The Nationals Team
Main organ Board of Directors
Parent organization SANYOF

The South African National Youth Orchestra Foundation is a non-profit organisation in the music education and development sector. 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 and internationally. It also assists regional youth orchestra and music education programmes countrywide. It organises annual youth orchestra courses, where the South African National Youth Orchestras are formed. This has included the South African National Youth Orchestra, South African National Concert Orchestra, the South African National Wind Orchestra, the South African National Youth Baroque Orchestra, South African National Youth Brass and the South African National String Orchestra. Members of these orchestras are aged between 13 and 25.1

The Foundation


Sasol has been the main sponsor since 1979 when the Foundation was formed to look after the South African National Youth Orchestra (formed in 1964). The Foundation has also been supported by De Beers, Rupert Musiekstigting, Adcock-Ingram, Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO), Blackie and Associates, Primedia (1998 tour), AECI, and Business & Arts South Africa over a number of years. SANYOF is run primarily by volunteers.2 The Foundation is a cooperating member of the European Federation of National Youth Orchestras (EFNYO).


The orchestra course is held every year during the winter school holidays, in a different city in South Africa. Courses have been presented in Bloemfontein, Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria and Stellenbosch. Repertoire includes a wide variety of works by romantic, 20th century and contemporary composers, with an emphasis on performing works by South African composers. This course has also been known as an opportunity to participate in chamber music, socialise and establish friendship. A highlight of the course is the annual soccer match. The Foundation hosted three separate courses in 2010; a break from the tradition of a single winter course. In addition to the annual Sasol National Youth Orchestra Course for symphony orchestras, the foundation started the fixture of hosting separate, annual National Youth Wind Orchestra and National Youth String Orchestra courses since 2010. This year was also the first time that the National Youth String Orchestra performed at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.


The course first started as a holiday music camp at Hartbeespoort Dam in 1964, with 87 participants, organised by the South African Society of Music Teachers (SASMT). The early pioneers included Korie Koornhof, Arthur Wegelin, Paul Loeb van Zuilenburg, Diane Heller and Betty Pack together with the first conductor, Leo Quayle.

The seeds those early pioneers sowed quickly took root and 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 a committed partner to this day, providing sponsorship for the annual youth orchestra course and its development initiatives.

The SA NYO Foundation holds courses around the country with tutelage by top local and international teachers and conductors.3

Under the management of Dorothy van de Geest and with the help of her husband, Professor Gerard van de Geest, the South African National Youth Orchestra reached unprecedented levels, performing in Scotland, in Europe and in Red Square in Moscow. Dorothy died in 2004.

In 2006, the SA NYO took part in the Beethoven festival in Bonn performing a programme of South African works in addition to Beethoven's symphony no. 5.4


  • 1974 Orchestra course held in Durban with 260 participants. Two participants (Piet Koornhof - violin, and Human Coetzee - Cello) invited to Interlochen, Michigan to play in the Interlochen World Youth Symphony Orchestra. EMI produces a record of the course.
  • 1978 The NYO tours Israel, featuring in the Festival of Youth Orchestra held in honour of the 30th anniversary of the State of Israel. Tour continues to France and Switzerland.
  • 1980 Founding of the South African National Youth Orchestra Foundation.
  • 1984 The NYO performs the commissioned work "Half Moon" together with choirs from Soweto and Sebokeng. The SABC broadcasts a documentary featuring the orchestra course.
  • 1988 The SABC broadcasts a documentary on the history and background of the Course. Gérard Korsten conducts the National Youth Orchestra in a SABC-TV studio recording.
  • 1994 The NYO participates in the Aberdeen International Youth Festival with the performance broadcast on BBC 3.
  • 2006 The NYO performs at the Beethoven festival in Bonn, Germany.

Past Conductors

Leo Quayle (South Africa) 9
John Arnold (United Kingdom)
Anton Hartman (South Africa)
Avi Ostrowsky (Israel)
Alberto Bolet (USA)
Alois Hochstraser (Austria)
Ali (Alexander) Rahbari (Austria)
Howard Griffiths (Switzerland)
John Hopkins (Australia)
Reinhard Schwarz (Austria)
Bernhard Gueller (Germany) 10
Gérard Korsten (South Africa) 11
Viktor Yampolsky (USA)
Omri Hadari (Israel)
Robert Maxym (Germany)
Hikotaro Yazaki (Japan)
Conrad van Alphen (South Africa) 12
Stefan Solyom (Sweden) 13
Fredrik Burstedt (Sweden) 14
Ewa Strusińska (Poland) 15
Gerben Grooten (Netherlands)16
Christian Baldini (Argentina)
Adam Cooke (Ireland)
Bjorn Breistein (Norway)
Sean Kierman (South Africa)

See also


  1. ^ "South African National Youth Orchestra - Mission and Vision". 4 March 2009. Retrieved 10 March 2010. 
  2. ^ "South African National Youth Orchestra Foundation". 4 March 2009. Retrieved 10 March 2010. 
  3. ^ "SA NYO - Past Conductors". 10 June 2009. Retrieved 10 March 2010. 
  4. ^ "Beethovenfest Bonn: Symphonies and Premieres" (Press release). Deutsche Welle. 17 August 2006. Retrieved 12 December 2009. 
  5. ^ "SANYOF & NewMusicSA choose Watt". ClassicSA. November 2010. Retrieved 18 January 2011. 
  6. ^ "Desmond Tutu adds new string to his bow at classical concert" (Press release). BBC. 8 July 2011. Retrieved 9 September 2011. 
  7. ^ "Sasol fosters young musical talent across South Africa" (Press release). BASA. 27 June 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2012. 
  8. ^ "Desmond Tutu adds new string to his bow at classical concert" (Press release). BBC. 8 July 2011. Retrieved 9 September 2011. 
  9. ^ "Obituary: Leo Quayle, Matric 1935". Pretoria Boys High School Old Boys Association. 24 January 2009. Retrieved 12 March 2010. 
  10. ^ Bernhard Gueller. "Bernhard Gueller - Orchestras Recently Conducted". Retrieved 10 March 2010. 
  11. ^ "Archive - Die Burger" (Press release). Die Burger. 14 August 2002. Retrieved 10 March 2010. 
  12. ^ Conrad van Alphen (27 May 2007). "Conrad van Alphen - Conductor". Retrieved 12 December 2009. 
  13. ^ "Stefan Solyom looking forward to Nationals ‘09" (Press release). Society News. 23 February 2009. Retrieved 12 December 2009. 
  14. ^ "SA NYO to perform in Stellenbosch" (Press release). Media Update. 2 December 2009. 
  15. ^ "SANYOF & NewMusicSA choose Watt". ClassicSA. November 2010. Retrieved 18 January 2011. 
  16. ^ "Audition for the South African National Youth Orchestra in 2011" (Press release). Pitchengine. 7 February 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2011. 


  • Official brochure of the Sasol South African National Youth Orchestra Course 2009

External links

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