NCO was founded in 1978 by Vivienne Price MBE to provide inspiring and first-class musical training for children. Membership is open to all talented youngsters, irrespective of background or financial circumstances.
NCO is a charity which relies on fundraising to cover 50% of its operating costs every year as well as 100% of the financial support it offers to make sure all talented young players can take part. NCO presently receives no Arts Council England funding of public money.
It’s expected that the successful partnership as Classic FM’s Children’s Orchestra will put the NCO centre stage with listeners of the UK’s most popular classical music radio station.
Underpinning its extraordinary standards is a committed network of professionals including internationally renowned conductors Peter Stark and Natalia Luis-Bassa, music tutors, teachers and support staff, many of whom are alumni.
In 2012 NCO was honoured to be invited to entertain HM the Queen as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. NCO has performed in a wide variety of concert venues, from the Royal Albert Hall in London to the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing. NCO performances are renowned for their intensity, vivacity and commitment, but above all their professionalism.
NCO comprises six National age-banded Orchestras and six Regional Orchestras with over 700 young musicians in membership each year at any one time. Membership starts at age 7 and players must retire at the age of 14. Usually half and sometimes as many as two thirds of the National Youth Orchestra every year is made up of ex-NCO players. Any player with talent, regardless of background or financial situation can join the National Children’s Orchestras. It’s a little known fact that nearly 25% of members get all or part of their membership costs paid for by NCO’s prolific fundraising campaigns and bursaries.