Association of British Orchestras

Youth ensembles

The ABO has the following key objectives for our youth ensemble membership:

  • To connect the youth ensemble membership with each other and with the professional sector, keeping them well informed and up-to-date with best practice to help build resilience and sustainability.
  • To champion youth ensembles, raising their profile and influence with key stakeholders and the British public, through political engagement, the media, social media and stakeholder bulletins. We will track and influence the development of cultural policy and advocate the value of support for youth ensembles through local music education bodies and private investment.
  • To develop the skills and knowledge of those who work for or volunteer their time to support their local youth ensemble.


Between 2013 and 2016 the ABO was funded by the National Foundation for Youth Music to run Professional Partnerships, a programme of work to create a new network to strengthen the sector of Youth Ensembles in England. Creative Scotland also supported the ABO to carry out a youth Ensembles survey in Scotland, including a survey of youth orchestra musicians

The Professional Partnerships project comprised three elements:

  1. A survey of all youth ensembles in England. The Youth Ensembles survey and the Youth Ensembles Scotland survey can both be downloaded from our publications section.
  2. Regional networking meetings for professional and youth orchestras
  3. Professional partnerships between professional and youth orchestras

Five professional orchestra partners in the programme were Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Halle Orchestra, Sage Gateshead and Sinfonia Viva. They coordinated meetings with youth orchestras music services who run youth orchestras.

In 2016 and 2017, the ABO collaborated with Music Mark (and Making Music in 2017) to present a Youth Ensembles event in Birmingham, for those who manage youth orchestras. A full day of discussion and inspirational ideas helped to determine what each membership organisation could provide their youth ensemble memberships.

Guidelines for Practice in Music Hire for Youth Orchestras

In 2011 the ABO and Music Publishers Association agreed on a set of guidelines for practice in music hire and these can be downloaded here [insert link]

The ABO's work on Youth Ensembles is overseen by our Education and Youth Ensembles Consultant, Fiona Harvey.

Annual Conference

The next conference will be held in Manchester from 29-31 January 2020,

hosted by The Hallé and BBC Philharmonic