Biography

The European Union Youth Orchestra is one of the world’s pre-eminent symphony orchestras. Described by the UK Guardian as having “gripping, exhilaratingly good orchestral playing, surging with energy, laser-sharp focus and collective daring... [with] a technical prowess that is downright terrifying”, and by former EU commission President Jean-Claude Juncker as “the best possible ambassador for the European Union” it has provided an exceptional bridge between music colleges and the professional music world for generations of Europe’s finest musicians since its foundation in 1976. 

The Orchestra has worked with many of the world’s greatest musicians including Daniel Barenboim, Leonard Bernstein, Herbert von Karajan, Mstislav Rostropovich and particularly its three Music Directors and current Chief Conductor: Founding Music Director Claudio Abbado, former Music Director Vladimir Ashkenazy, former Music Director and Conductor Laureate Bernard Haitink, and Chief Conductor Vasily Petrenko. 

The EUYO’s almost 4000 alumni have all come through the Orchestra’s rigorous, annual audition process conducted in all EU Member States, and many are now notable conductors, soloists, teachers and instrumentalists working with the major orchestras of Europe and throughout the world. 

A truly global brand, the EUYO has performed in most of the world’s major concert halls and festivals, including the BBC Proms at London’s Royal Albert Hall, New York’s Carnegie Hall and Vienna’s Musikverein. From Amsterdam to Abu Dhabi, Moscow to Mumbai, Seoul to São Paulo, the Orchestra has appeared in many hundreds of venues across five continents. Recent awards include the European Cultural Brand of the Year 2020, the European Orchestra Award TAURUS and an Abu Dhabi Culture Summit Cultural Diplomat of the Year Award. 

During 2021, the Orchestra will be launching Towards 2030, a programme training the EUYO’s members to successfully engage with 21st century audiences, and developing the innovative projects pioneered in its Creative Europe Towards 2020 programme, thereby training its members and recent alumni with the skills necessary to meet the challenges of today’s and tomorrow’s Europe. Activities in 2021 include residencies in Bolzano, Cremona, Ferrara and Grafenegg, concerts in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and in the United Arab Emirates for the Dubai EXPO2020, as well as a new pilot project for online learning. 

The Orchestra’s home in Italy is thanks to support from the Italian Ministry of Culture, Ferrara Musica and the Italian broadcaster RAI. Additionally, the EUYO is resident Orchestra at its summer home and principal venue partner Grafenegg in Lower Austria, and partner of Campus Grafenegg. The EUYO is supported by the Creative Europe programme of the European Commission, and by the 27 Member States of the European Union. 

Founded by Joy and Lionel Bryer in 1976, the EUYO has been a Cultural Ambassador for the European Union for more than forty years. The EUYO’s Honorary President is David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament, and its Honorary Patrons include Ursula von der Leyen, President of the EU Commission and Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and the Heads of State and Government, the ministers of foreign affairs and culture of the EU member states. 

 

VIEWS ABOUT THE EUYO

 

“For forty years the European Union Youth Orchestra has united the young generations of our continent through music. This is Europe at its best. In hard times like the ones we are living, the EUYO sends a powerful message to all the young people of our continent: your time is now”.
Federica Mogherini, Former High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Honorary Patron of the EUYO

 

“The EUYO perfectly exemplifies the power of being united in diversity - .. the EU motto.”
Themis Christophidou, Director-General, the European Commission for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture   

 

“The [EU] youth orchestra has been a symbol of cultural diversity in Europe for 40 years. If this European Union Youth Orchestra did not already exist, you’d have to start one now”.
Monika Grütters, German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media

 

“The European Union Youth Orchestra is Europe at its best. The young musicians of the EUYO symbolize the values and ideals that lie at the heart of Europe – solidarity, culture diversity, cross-border mobility, intercultural dialogue and collaboration”.
Androulla Vassiliou, Former EU Commissioner for Education,Culture, Multilingualism and Youth

 

“Building bridges not just between musicians, but also between cultures and peoples”
Martin Schulz, Former President of the European Parliament

 

“Pre-eminent cultural ambassadors for the EU”
Herman van Rompuy, Former President of the European Council

 

“This is Europe at its best: openness and readiness to listen and embrace others’ ideas to better chart the future.” “…undoubtedly one of the most successful and loved European co-operation projects”.
José Manuel Durão Barroso, Former President of the European Commission

 

“As the EU prepares for its historic enlargement eastwards, the Youth Orchestra can proudly say it has blazed the way”.
Hans-Gert Pöttering, Former President of the European Parliament

 

“…the remarkable European Union Youth Orchestra enlisting musicians from 15 European nations.By their art these orchestras greatly contribute to strengthening mutual understanding among peoples and to the construction of the common European home”. 
Boris Yeltsin, Former first President of the Russian Federation

 

“I am delighted to learn that the ECYO is touring Europe and India as part of the birth centenary celebrations of Jawaharlal Nehru. This is a befitting tribute to one who had tremendous faith in the capabilities of youth. I extend a warm welcome to the ECYO on its tour of India”.
Rajiv Gandhi, Former Prime Minister of India

 

“For over a decade, you have remained committed to enhancing the considerable talents of young musicians, while serving as an important symbol of European unity and cooperation. I commend you as ambassadors of goodwill who bring delight to audiences the world over. Through your inspiring performances, you enhance our love and appreciation of music”.
Ronald Reagan, Former President of the United States of America

 

“[The ECYO] proves that our cultural differences – far from presenting an obstacle –brings common riches, creativity and success”.
Jacques Delors, Former President of the European Commission

 

“The Youth Orchestra perfectly fulfills its task. It carries with it, from one frontier to another, the hope of unity and a promise of friendship”.
Jacques Chirac, Former President of France, former Prime Minister of France

 

“The ECYO sets an example to us all by demonstrating what harmony amongst nations can achieve”.
Margaret Thatcher, Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom