History of NYOS

National Youth Orchestras of Scotland (NYOS) was formed on 1 December 1978 presenting its first series of concerts in Falkirk, Aberdeen and Dundee in 1979 during which over 100 young instrumentalists took part. At the time, the organisation consisted of just one flagship orchestra.

Today NYOS has a vision of a scotland where all communities access world-class ensemble youth music-making and share in its social, personal, and cultural benefits. You can follow a timeline of our key events below. For more information about our archive, please contact info@nyos.co.uk 



1 December 1978

The founding of the organisation is formally announced when Chairman Professor Donald Pack receives a cheque for £5,000, the first instalment of a £20,000 pump priming grant from Carnegie UK Trust.


1 January 1979

First logo for the organisation, originally known as The National Youth Orchestra of Scotland.

Original NYOS Logo

1 August 1979

First orchestral course at Trinity College, Glenalmond, conducted by Nicholas Braithwaite, with concerts in Falkirk, Aberdeen and Dundee.


3 August 1980

Tour of the Highlands and Northern Isles with a concert at Sullom Voe Oil Terminal, which set a record for the farthest point north at which a symphony orchestra had performed in the United Kingdom.


1 December 1981

Up and coming violinist, Nigel Kennedy, performs as soloist in a tour of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Perth. He would return the following year for the Viking Tour.


28 July 1982

The Viking Tour of Orkney, The Faroe Islands, Norway, Sweden and Denmark begins, with the support of Volvo transportation.


30 July 1982

The Viking Tour continues on board P&O Ferries.


1 August 1982

A BBC documentary is made for the programme Spectrum, following the orchestra throughout the Viking Tour of Orkney, The Faroe Islands, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.  


3 August 1983

The orchestra perform at the Usher Hall as part of Edinburgh International Festival under the baton of conductor Sir Alexander Gibson.


8 August 1985

The orchestra celebrate European Music Year with a summer tour to Germany and Luxembourg, conducted by Nicholas Braithwaite. The programme included John McCabe’s Tuning, DvoÅ™ák’s Cello Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1.


3 August 1986

The orchestra embark on a return tour of Scotland, Norway and the Faroe Islands, conducted by Sir Alexander Gibson with soloists Krzysztof Smientana (violin) and Murray McLachlan (piano).


10 January 1987

Percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie featured as soloist in John McLeod's Percussion Concerto, which is conducted by the composer.


1 November 1987

Richard Chester joins as Director of the organisation, a post he held for 20 years.


3 August 1988

The orchestra makes its Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall, London following a tour to the Netherlands.


11 November 1988

Colin MacLean becomes Chairman


1 January 1991

The orchestra perform in Liverpool, Fort William and Glasgow with pianist Peter Katin under the baton of Sergey Vlasov.


2 April 1992

NYOS Chamber Orchestra is formed, and makes its debut in Edinburgh and Glasgow with a programme which includes a world premiere by Scottish composer Edward McGuire.


1 April 1993

NYOS receives the Classic FM Red Award for outstanding contribution to classical music.


1 August 1993

NYOS Chamber Orchestra embarks on a tour of Japan, performing at the World Youth Orchestra Festival with conductor William Conway.


1 August 1994

The flagship orchestra return to the Netherlands with performances in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and s’Hertogenbosch. The programme of Stravinsky, Ibert and Tchaikovsky conducted by Japanese conductor Jun’icki Hirokami features soloist William Bennett.


11 November 1994

Iain Harrison becomes Chairman.


12 July 1996

First public performance of the Jazz Orchestra at the Macrobert Centre in Stirling, directed by Richard Michael.


1 April 1996

NYOS Chamber Orchestra is re-named Camerata Scotland.


11 April 1997

First public performance of the National Children’s Orchestra of Scotland in the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh conducted by James Durrant with the young Nicola Benedetti as orchestra leader.


11 April 1997

Nicola Benedetti meets Lord Wilson, Chairman of Hydro Electric


7 July 1997

Camerata Scotland tours Australia in collaboration with Camerata Australia.


17 June 1999

A Royal Celebration is hosted by HRH Prince Edward at Holyrood House to celebrate the achievements and the 21st anniversary of The National Youth Orchestra of Scotland.


17 June 1999

HRH Prince Edward at Holyrood House chatting with members of the orchestra


3 August 1999

Members of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland warming up before the concert in a café opposite Glasgow City Halls.


1 February 2000

Alan Simpson becomes Chairman


1 April 2001

The National Children's Orchestra of Scotland summer course is established


1 January 2002

Garry Walker conducts the flagship orchestra on New Year’s Day. Garry was a cellist in the flagship orchestra from 1990 to 1992, and went on to perform with Camerata Scotland before making his conducting debut.


1 January 2003

Sian Edwards conducts the flagship orchestra in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall and Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.


17 June 2004

NYOS celebrates its 25th anniversary at Holyrood House. The event coincides with the release of Nurturing Talent by Ex-Chairman Colin MacLean, a book which reflects on the context for NYOS and the people who gave life to the organisation in its first 25 years.


1 January 2005

Colin Currie performs the world premiere of Thea Musgrave’s ‘Wood, Metal and Skin’ with the Symphony Orchestra. Colin was a member of the orchestra’s percussion section from 1990 to 1994, and in 1994 became the first percussion finalist in BBC Young Musician of the Year.


10 August 2007

The Symphony Orchestra perform in Berlin as part of the Young Euro Classics Festival.


1 August 2009

NYOS celebrates its 30th anniversary


2 August 2010

The Symphony Orchestra tour to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for the first time, with performances at the University of Limerick, Dublin’s National Concert Hall, and Belfast’s Ulster Hall.


1 July 2011

String players from the Symphony Orchestra collaborate with the Jazz Orchestra in a unique recording at Castlesound Studios in Edinburgh.


2 September 2011

NYOS Camerata perform and record Rory Boyle’s 'That Blessed Wood', conducted by Tecwyn Evans and featuring bassoon soloist David Hubbard.


1 November 2011

Professor Marjorie Rycroft becomes Chairman


1 May 2012

Incoming Chief Executive Joan Gibson launches three-year strategic plan and working model for the NYOS Pathway of musical education.


2 August 2012

NYOS Symphony Orchestra tour of Perth, Glasgow, Gateshead and London for the BBC Proms with the BBC SSO, featuring alumna Nicola Benedetti.


1 October 2012

NYOS introduces its vision for a new educational pathway based on annual membership, staged development, and nurturing young musical talent in Scotland. The vision:

  • The National Children's Orchestra became NYOS Junior Orchestra
  • The Senior Orchestra was launched, filling the gap between Junior and Symphony levels
  • The upper age limit for the Symphony Orchestra was raised to 25


9 April 2013

NYOS Senior Orchestra performs its inaugural concert at Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh to critical acclaim.


10 April 2013

NYOS Futures in collaboration with London Sinfonietta perform Steve Reich's 'Variations for Vibes, Pianos and Strings' with the composer in attendance.


14 April 2013

NYOS Junior Orchestra performs its inaugural concert at Sage, Gateshead to a wonderful reception.


21 July 2013

NYOS Jazz Orchestra celebrates its 21st anniversary with a party and outdoor performance at Dundas Castle with outstanding vocalist Liane Carrol.


3 February 2014

As the City of Glasgow gears up to host the 20th Commonwealth Games, NYOS celebrates the occasion with a themed programme across all its ensembles. Arts organisations across the city were preparing, planning and rehearsing for a cultural extravaganza.


2 August 2014

The organisation celebrates its 35th anniversary with a Gala Concert attended by its Patron, HRH The Earl of Wessex, in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall. The Symphony Orchestra was joined on stage by extraordinary trumpet player Håkan Hardenberger.


20 August 2014

Thanks to the generous legacy bequest ofJudith Worthington (nee Betteridge), NYOS is able to purchase the upper two floors of its exisiting premises in Glasgow to create performance, rehearsal and audition spaces.

As a violist, Mrs Worthington spent her professional life performing with the Scottish National Orchestra (now RSNO), as well as tutoring aspiring musicians.

Image reproduced here with kind permission of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra archive.


24 January 2015

NYOS announces a year of music themed around Scottish Connections, and announces a welcome return to the international stage with the Symphony Orchestra touring to China in the summer.


1 June 2015

The roof of the recently purchased top floor of the NYOS building begins to leak, eventually leading to the collapse of the ground floor ceiling, prompting renovation works to begin in earnest.


2 July 2015

First floor of NYOS building before refurbishment works


2 July 2015

Second floor and landing of NYOS building before refurbishment works


3 August 2015

NYOS Symphony Orchestra embarks upon an ambitious tour of China, performing in world-class venues in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin.



1 August 2015

The Symphony Orchestra perform a ‘bon voyage’ concert in Perth concert hall before its tour of China.


5 August 2015

NYOS Symphony Orchestra musicians blog about their experience during their tour of China, published in the News Section of the website.


15 February 2016

First floor of the NYOS building after the refurbishment works


15 February 2016

Second floor and landing of the NYOS building after the refurbishment works


25 February 2016

2016 Season Launch - Invitation to the Dance with a Matisse inspired Season Brochure front cover 


25 February 2016

Invitation to the Dance is the theme for all NYOS ensembles. The season launch event doubled as the unveiling of the newly refurbish NYOS building, with performance and audition spaces. Guests were treated to performances from a wind quintet and jazz trio.


2 May 2016

The renovation of 13 Somerset Place reached final completion in May 2016 providing NYOS with new rehearsal, performance and audition spaces. None of which would have been possible without Judith Worthington (nee Betteridge).  Her generous gift will continue to benefit the young musicians of NYOS for many years to come.


5 August 2016

In a truly landmark year, both the NYOS Symphony Orchestra and NYOS Jazz Orchestra give stand-alone performances at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall. The Jazz Orchestra welcomes back two of its most celebrated guest artists; Iain Ballamy and Liane Carroll.


7 August 2016

NYOS Symphony Orchestra perform alongside outstanding pianist Pavel Kolesnikov at the BBC Proms, with a programme featuring ‘Two Eardley Pictures’ by NYOS alumna Helen Grime. The piece won Best Large Scale Work at the New Music Scotland awards the following year.


1 November 2016

Chief Executive & Artistic Director Joan Gibson announces her retirement after five successful years at the helm of NYOS.


6 February 2017

Nicolas Žekulin becomes new Chief Executive & Artistic Director.


5 August 2017

Colin Currie returns to perform Andrew Norman’s Percussion Concerto Switch with the Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of returning-conductor Michael Francis. The orchestra’s summer tour includes a performance as part of the Aberdeen International Youth Festival.


27 August 2017

NYOS Camerata make their debut at the Edinburgh Fringe, performing Concerto for Comedian and Orchestra with Vikki Stone at the Pleasance Grand.


1 August 2018

After 30 years, NYOS Symphony Orchestra made a welcome return to Edinburgh International Festival (EIF). 2018 was designated Creative Scotland's Year of Young People and appropriately the Festival showcased extraordinary young classical talents from both sides of the Atlantic.


7 August 2018

NYOS Symphony Orchestra perform the European Championships Gala Concert in George Square, Glasgow. The concert included a live linkup to Berlin, co-hosts of the 2018 European Championships.


21 February 2019

The National Youth Orchestras of Scotland's launches its 40th Anniversary celebrations! In 2019 we honoured four decades of nurturing and developing the country’s best and brightest young musicians. To read more about our 40th Anniversary progamme please click here


1 April 2019

As part of its 40th Anniversary celebration NYOS launch it's 'Alumni Stories' film series featruring alumni from all walks of life discussing the importance of organisations like NYOS in their own development and future careers.


18 July 2019

As NYOS marked 40 years of nurturing Scotland’s talented young musicians in 2019 our flagship Jazz Orchestra embarked on its biggest tour to date. A five-date summer tour of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Éire with very special guest artist, acclaimed British-Bahraini trumpeter and flugelhorn player Yazz Ahmed. Read more


21 November 2019

The Non-Executive Board of the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland announces the appointment of Lindsay Pell as its new Chair.


12 March 2020

After careful consideration the Board and Staff of NYOS took the decision to cancel all our spring courses and concerts due to the developing situation with the COVID-19 outbreak.


25 September 2020

Due to the continuing restrictions around COVID-19, NYOS had to cancel all summer courses in 2020, refunding all course fees. However, the decision was taken to provide some form of education and performative experience for free to all orchestra members in 2020. One of the highlights of which, was a collaboration with Mercury Prize nominated musician and composer C Duncan (Christopher Duncan), and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra titled Dance from a Distance. Find out more.


30 September 2021

NYOS Jazz Orchestra with Paul Booth recorded live at BBC Radio Scotland, Glasgow Quay.

This amazing project marked the first time any NYOS ensemble had performed together, in person, in over two years. Conductor and Director of Jazz at NYOS, Andrew Bain led Paul and the Orchestra through a full, 40-minute, concert style set, performing six tracks back-to-back.


20 August 2021

We Were Back! Everyone at NYOS was amazed by the adaptability and dedication shown by our young players in the face of unprecedented challenges during lockdown and beyond. We were thrilled therefore to confirm that in-person courses and live performances would return again in 2022. A sentiment we tried to capture in this campaign film.


27 October 2021

New Chief Executive Officer

NYOS appoint Dr Kirsteen Davidson Kelly as its new Chief Executive Officer.


21 January 2022

NYOS Launch Ambassador Programme. Many young people face challenges while trying to build a career in the music industry, and the need for paid work experience and training opportunities is key. That’s why we created 18 Ambassador roles to provide a structured programme of training and work experience suitable for young people aged up to, and including, 25 years old. Find out more here


20 July 2022

NYOS launch the soundings consultation process with the aim of developing a new strategy to build on its 40-year legacy of youth music delivery.

Taking feedback from a wide variety of experiences including young musicians, parents, former NYOS members, music teachers, partner organisations and audience members, as well as those who aren’t involved with NYOS. 


9 October 2023

The National Youth Orchestras of Scotland enter a new era following an in-depth consultation with members in 2022. One year on, a new strategic direction focuses on our values of ambition, belonging and creativity. With this, NYOS move to a new office space at The Briggait in the centre of Glasgow. You can find out more about us by visiting:

> About NYOS