Melbourne Youth Orchestras can date its origins back to 1967 when an enlightened State Government introduced free instrumental tuition into government schools throughout Victoria. At the same time, the Secondary Schools’ Concert Committee (now known as Melbourne Youth Orchestras) was formed under the leadership of Alexandra Cameron OBE with a vision to provide music students with the opportunity to participate in ensemble music making and to take part in public performances.
Our first rehearsal consisted of a 70 piece orchestra under the direction of Eric Austin Phillips, and in 1972, to mark the centenary of education in Victoria, the ensemble was renamed the Melbourne Youth Orchestra, with a performance taking place in the Melbourne Town Hall. Our annual Summer School began in 1971, held for two days at University High School, Parkville.
In 1974, growth in numbers and standard of students enrolling in our program necessitated the formation of the Percy Grainger Youth Orchestra, with its founding conductor Bruce Worland AM.
1976 saw the addition of the John Antill Youth Band and Junior Strings Program, and the formalisation of the now more familiar tiered structure of ensembles began to develop. Over the following four decades, MYO ensembles continued to grow under the leadership of some of the finest conductors, tutors and music educators, bringing together young people for a range of engaging social and musical activities.
Our program is now recognised as one of the finest ensemble music training programs in the country. It is estimated that in excess of 30,000 people have benefited from attending one of our programs, many of whom today playing leading roles in the business, arts and education communities.
We play a leadership role in collaborating with education and music partners to ensure that a high quality music education is available for all students in Victoria. Our programs are designed to increase youth involvement in the arts and raise the status of music education in Victoria – having a positive impact on music in schools and the community; ensuring access, engagement and participation regardless of social, cultural or educational backgrounds.