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 2022 the Orchestra launched a new online learning programme, EUYO Frontrunners, and the Peace in Europe project, a series of concerts throughout 2022 in countries across Europe from the Baltic to the Mediterranean and the East of Europe to the North Sea, all dedicated to the cause of peace in Europe and to highlighting the plight of victims of violence. On Europe Day 2022 the EUYO also launched Café Bauhaus, an innovative environmentally friendly small scale music series, and on May 30 was the first orchestra ever to perform on the sacred Greek island of Delos in a World Human Forum concert livestreamed on Arte TV and broadcast on big screens across Europe to raise awareness globally about the urgent need for the regeneration of our planet. 

2022 also includes major orchestral residencies in Grafenegg (Austria), Ferrara and Bolzano (Italy), Helsinki and Tampere (Finland), with concerts in cities including Amsterdam, Berlin, Bologna, Bolzano, Brussels, Cremona, Delos, Ferrara, Grafenegg, Helsinki, Lusławice, Prague, Tampere, Udine and Warsaw. Many of these performances will highlight the European Year of Youth 2022.  

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 Orchestra is also Ensemble in Residence at the Stauffer Center for Strings in Cremona, Italy. 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 the President of the European Parliament, currently Roberta Metsola, 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.