When Germany’s youngest elite musicians pick up their instruments, the reaction from critics, soloists, conductors, and audiences is enthusiastic. The youthful energy and surprising professionalism of these young performers combine to produce an orchestral sound that is perhaps unique in the world.
„What an enormous pleasure to meet this wonderful next generation of colleagues! I think the future of orchestras is safe in your hands …“ – Sir Simon Rattle
Following a successful audition, the young musicians between the ages of 14 and 19 have the opportunity to work together with renowned conductors and soloists. Herbert von Karajan, Kurt Masur, Gerd Albrecht, and Gustavo Dudamel have conducted the orchestra, and soloists such as Christian Tetzlaff (violin), Tabea Zimmermann (viola), Fazil Say (piano), as well as the rock musicians Sting and Peter Maffay have toured with the group. Since 2018, Sir Simon Rattle is Conductor Laureate of the National Youth Orchestra of Germany.
During the intensive rehearsal periods, the orchestra prepares challenging works from all historical eras; contemporary music and premieres of new pieces are an essential aspect of the orchestra’s repertoire. The preparation of these programs, the musical interaction with professionals from Germany’s finest orchestras and universities, and the encounter with other talented and like-minded young people are defining experiences at both a musical and a human level.
The National Youth Orchestra of Germany was founded by the German Music Council in 1969, and since 2013 has been an official partner of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
There is no part of the world where these young musicians have not performed. The orchestra has often toured as a musical ambassador for the Federal Republic of Germany in Europe, Africa, and Asia, as well as North and South America. This elite ensemble has played in Berlin’s Bellevue Palace for Germany’s Federal President a. D. Joachim Gauck, celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift in the USA, toured Eastern Europe as part of Germany’s EU Council presidency, and traveled to South Africa for the cultural programs accompanying the football World Cup in 2010.
The National Youth Orchestra of Germany is an important step on the path to a professional career. A 2013 study showed that 83 % of BJO members become professional musicians – proof of the important support this organization provides to gifted young artists. The orchestra is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Woman and Youth, as well as by DekaBank, Mercedes-Benz Group, GVL (German Collecting Society for Performing Rights), the city of Bonn, unisono (German Orchestra Union), the German National Youth Orchestra Foundation and numerous private donors.