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 the timeline of our key events below. For more information about our archive, please contact info@nyos.co.uk 



1 December 1978

The organisation was founded and formally announced. Pictured: The Chairman, Professor Donald Pack receives a cheque for £5,000, the first instalment of a £20,000 grant from Carnegie UK Trust.


1 January 1979

Initially launched as The National Youth Orchestra of Scotland. Pictured: NYOS Logo (1979)


1 August 1979

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


28 July 1982

NYOS embarked on The Viking Tour of Orkney, The Faroe Islands, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, supported by Volvo Transportation.


30 July 1982

Pictured: Members of the orchestra during The Viking Tour on board P&O Ferries.


1 August 1982

Watch: BBC Documentary made for the programme Spectrum, following the orchestra throughout the Viking Tour of Orkney, The Faroe Islands, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.  


3 August 1983

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


10 January 1987

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


1 November 1987

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


3 August 1988

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


11 November 1988

Colin MacLean became Chairman


1 April 1993

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


11 November 1994

Iain Harrison became Chairman.


11 April 1997

Pictured: The National Children’s Orchestra of Scotland had their first performance in the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh conducted by James Durrant with the young Nicola Benedetti as orchestra leader.


7 July 1997

Pictured: Camerata Scotland toured Australia in collaboration with Camerata Australia.


17 June 1999

A Royal Celebration was hosted by NYOS Patron, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh at Holyrood House to celebrate the achievements and the 21st anniversary of The National Youth Orchestra of Scotland.


1 February 2000

Alan Simpson became Chairman


1 April 2001

The National Children's Orchestra of Scotland held its first summer course


17 June 2004

NYOS celebrated 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

Pictured: Colin Currie performed the world premiere of Thea Musgrave’s ‘Wood, Metal and Skin’ with the NYOS 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 performed in Berlin as part of the Young Euro Classics Festival.


1 August 2009

NYOS celebrated its 30th anniversary


1 November 2011

Professor Marjorie Rycroft became Chair of NYOS


1 May 2012

Joan Gibson became Chief Executive and launched three-year strategic plan and working model for the NYOS Pathway of Musical Education.


2 August 2012

Pictured: NYOS Symphony Orchestra toured Perth, Glasgow, Gateshead and London for the BBC Proms with the BBC SSO, featuring alumnus Nicola Benedetti.


1 October 2012

NYOS introduced its vision based on annual membership, staged development, and nurturing young musical talent.

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


9 April 2013

Pictured: NYOS Senior Orchestra performed its inaugural concert at Glasgow's City Halls. 


14 April 2013

Pictured: NYOS Junior Orchestra performed its inaugural concert at Sage, Gateshead.


2 August 2014

Watch: NYOS celebrated its 35th anniversary with a Gala Concert attended by its Patron, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall. The Symphony Orchestra was joined on stage by extraordinary trumpet player, Håkan Hardenberger.


20 August 2014

Pictured: Judith Worthington (nee Betteridge) meeting HM The Queen.

Thanks to a legacy donation, NYOS were able to purchase the upper two floors of their 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.


1 August 2015

Watch: The NYOS Symphony Orchestra embarked upon an ambitious tour of China, performing in world-class venues in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin. To launch the tour, the orchestra performed a special concert in Perth.


15 February 2016

NYOS Office: Building refurbished and renovated with the first floor becoming a rehearsal and performance space. 


25 February 2016

Pictured: NYOS Chief Executive presented the season launch event which doubled as the unveiling of the newly refurbished NYOS building.


7 August 2016

Watch: NYOS Symphony Orchestra performed 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 announced her retirement after five successful years at the helm of NYOS.


6 February 2017

Nicolas Zekulin became new Chief Executive & Artistic Director.


27 August 2017

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


1 August 2018

Watch: After 30 years, NYOS Symphony Orchestra made a welcome return to the 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

Pictured: NYOS Symphony Orchestra performed at 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 launched its 40th Anniversary celebrations. In 2019 honouring four decades of nurturing and developing the country’s best and brightest young musicians.

You can read more about the 40th Anniversary: Read Programme


1 April 2019

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


21 November 2019

The Non-Executive Board of the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland announced 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 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. However, the decision was taken to provide some form of education and performative experience for orchestra members in 2020.

One of the highlights of which, was a collaboration with Mercury Prize nominated musician and composer, Christopher Duncan and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra titled Dance from a Distance.


20 August 2021

Watch: Despite unprecedented challenges, the adaptability and dedication shown by young players during lockdown and beyond was incredible to witness. This campaign film was produced to announce that, We Are Back! 

NYOS confirmed that in-person courses and live performances would return again in 2022. 


27 October 2021

NYOS appointed Dr Kirsteen Davidson Kelly as its new Chief Executive and Artistic Director


21 January 2022

NYOS launched an 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. NYOS 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. 


20 July 2022

Watch: NYOS launched 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 entered a new era following an in-depth consultation with members in 2022. One year on, a new strategic direction focuses on the values of ambition, belonging and creativity. With this, NYOS moved to a new office space at The Briggait in the centre of Glasgow.

You can find out more about NYOS by visiting:

> About NYOS