Members of Canada’s 2020 National Youth Orchestra will continue their coveted training program online, despite a heartbreaking cancellation of their annual residential training institute and tour due to COVID-19.

This month, thanks to generous donors and dedicated faculty and alumni, the Orchestra launches its first-ever suite of free online lessons, masterclasses and webinars for students who were selected for the training and tour in Europe, but faced disappointment due to COVID-19.

These webinars and online lessons will enable orchestra members to support daily artistic practice and learning in self-isolation, develop essential skills such as managing performance anxiety and maintaining mental focus, and prepare repertoire while looking ahead to a spectacular hoped-for return to live performance in 2021.

NYO Canada is recognized as this nation’s pre-eminent pre-professional orchestral training institute, providing an essential bridge to the profession for Canada’s finest young musicians aged 16 to 28. Every year, through a grueling audition process, 100 of the best and brightest are selected to participate in a 5-week residential training institute followed by a national and international tour under the baton of a world-leading conductor. 2020 marks the first time in NYO’s 60-year history that the summer program has been cancelled – a heartbreaking setback for young aspiring musicians.

“Today, more than 40 per cent of the professional musicians playing in Canadian orchestras are NYO alumni, which means this program plays a vital role at the heart of Canada’s arts infrastructure,” says Kevin Latimer, QC, a partner at Halifax’s Cox & Palmer law firm and Chair of the Board. “We are ensuring that legacy, and are extraordinarily grateful to our donors, who have stayed with us during this unprecedented time, providing the modest funds needed to enable our students to continue their training online. We are also very proud of our faculty, alumni, and 2020 students themselves, who have come together as a community and not allowed the present situation to deter them from reaching for artistic excellence.”

“We are making the best of an unprecedented situation,” says Barbara Smith, President & CEO. “Each year, we remind students that the orchestral metaphor is all about building community, resilience, and commitment to each other and ensuring we serve Canadians no matter how challenging it may be at times. We continue that spirit now, as our students, alumni and faculty continue the tradition of building outstanding musical talent for Canada and the world. If anything, COVID-19 has demonstrated how powerful and important the arts are to every one of us.”

NYO is promising that anyone talented enough to have been selected, and who accepted a position in the 2020 orchestra will not miss the chance to reach for their dreams, and has offered an automatic place to all those who wish to participate once quarantine is lifted.

The NYO 2020 online program for musicians includes:

  • NYO Online Workshops: a series of FREE online lessons, masterclasses, and webinars for 2020 Orchestra members to support their artistic practice and learning in self-isolation
  • From May 19th to June 14th, daily webinars led by experts on a variety of topics, ranging from how to promote yourself as a musician and career development to mental health and wellness during COVID-19
  • Beginning June 15th, faculty lead online sessions and masterclasses for two weeks
  • Alumni Malcolm Kellett-Cooke (tuba) and Kailan Fournier (clarinet) will host a weekly show from end of June to end of July called “NYO Is Life” where they will interview faculty and notable alumni about their lives as professional musicians, and offer career advice for musicians at the start of their career
  • All participating 2020 musicians will be gifted a professional quality microphone so that they can fully participate in the session, and can use the microphone in future for audition tapes or to help them create their own online music teaching studio

For online content available to the public, visit NYO Canada’s website at

Media enquiries: Emily Dunbar 416-532-4470 or