WA Youth Orchestras is a non-profit registered charity providing unparalleled orchestral training and performance opportunities for young Western Australians and our audiences.

Since 1974, WAYO has been committed to the long-term investment of engaging and enriching the lives of WA’s youth through music. Our family of orchestras, ensembles and initiatives build a supportive community environment encouraging self-esteem, discipline, teamwork, leadership and performance skills to develop and flourish. Our programs highlight works of historical, educational and cultural value, creating an experience for our members that nurtures their creative education whilst being representative of the community and culture they exist within. WAYO is one of Australia’s leading and most comprehensive youth orchestra programs, with over 400 members drawn from 137 suburbs in Perth, South West WA and beyond.

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The WA Youth Orchestra has a rich performance history

Each year, WAYO presents diverse, innovative and impactful concerts to live audiences in excess of 30,000. Our rich performance history has made us a stalwart of WA arts and culture, whilst also facilitating performances throughout London, Prague, Berlin, Mannheim, Brussels, Paris, Singapore, and Hyogo through our committed international touring program. The past decade has seen WAYO enjoy increased exposure to guest conductors of international standing through our Woodside International Conductor Season. This exchange program revolves around the inclusion of various international guests who bring a unique perspective to the rehearsal space, facilitating education and understanding through cultural and musical enrichment. These fine conductors build on the fantastic work of all of WAYO’s music staff lead by WAYO’s Music Director and Chief Conductor for over 30 years – the inspirational Peter Moore OAM. Cultural exchange is explored in many ways throughout our concert programming. 2021’s Spirit centred on a collaboration between Australian Indigenous and Western musics; originally commissioned by the Darwin Symphony Orchestra [2019], the principal work Yuwani was a spectacular convergence of the work of renowned Numbulwar musician Don Nunggarrgalu and celebrated Australian composer, Lachlan Skipworth. “The results are (sic) goosebump inducing, blending the original song’s flexible rhythmic and harmonic language with the tonal palette of the Western orchestra [review: Seesaw].

Other performance highlights include: becoming the first youth orchestra in the world to perform with Maestro Ennio Morricone in a sell-out performance at Burswood/Crown Theatre for the 2012 Perth Festival (one of the most successful in the Festival’s history), being the featured orchestra in Perth Festival’s 2016 opening Home to an audience of 30,000, performances with music theatre star, Lucy Durack, jazz vocalist, Grace Knight, and iconic pop band, The Whitlams, as well as the Joondalup Resort and Leeuwin Estate Concert Series’, and ten consecutive annual seasons of a large-scale, outdoor concert in Burswood Park [2008-2018]. In addition, WAYO presents its renowned sell-out Children Concerts and Outreach Concerts to facilitate educational exchange, learning, and mentorship. Since 1985, Perth’s favourite children’s orchestra concerts have been delighting young people and their parents in the thousands every year. In these well-beloved ‘Babies Proms’, WA families are given the opportunity to learn and interact with a real live orchestra. Our side-by-side collaborations with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra give our members the opportunity to share a stage with WASO, learning and performing within the context of a professional orchestral environment. Beginning in 2005, this uniquely beneficial program is slated for annual recurrences from 2021-2023.

A key focus area of WAYO is developing new initiatives to support the evolution of arts and culture in Western Australia for the benefit of our members and broader community. The Carol Day Commission has been designed to offer a female-identifying Australian composer the opportunity to write, rehearse, and perform a large-scale orchestral work in a high-profile performance setting, whilst maintaining creative autonomy. This commissioning award, now in its third year, allows our members to glean knowledge from living composers with underrepresented voices, and exposes our audiences to new and innovative orchestral music that speaks of our time. New to 2022, the Merge initiative nurtures interdisciplinary collaborations between WAYO and other creative industries to further the cultural and performative experience of our members. The first of these collaborations, Rite & Revolution, received “a huge ovation” [The West Australian] with anonymous audience survey feedback praising it for being “thrilling”, “inspiring”, “unique”, and “uplifting to say the least!”.

Western Australian Youth Orchestras is an organisation of “abundant promise” [The West Australian], and we can’t wait to share with you what’s next.

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