NYJO and Nikki Yeoh – Discover more about this very special concert

On Tuesday 30 April, The National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) returns to the Stoller Hall on Tuesday 30 April for a very special concert featuring brand new and reimagined jazz works. We caught up with the NYJO team to find out a bit more about the event and the music.

Can you tell us a little more about NYJO? How did it start and what kind of projects does the orchestra focus on?

The National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) is a registered charity, whose mission is to nurture and develop young jazz musicians, and inspire audiences across the UK, through engaging participation projects and impactful live performances.

Founded in 1965, NYJO has grown from a single jazz orchestra to a multifaceted organisation that is committed to supporting musicians of all styles and standards – whether they want to become the next emerging artist or simply play for fun.

We work in close collaboration with renowned artists and likeminded partners to deliver projects that respond to local community needs and create an inclusive learning environment which centres the voices of young people.

Montage of members of National Youth Jazz Orchestra performing

Members of NYJO in performance

How many players will be involved in the concert on 30 April?

For this programme, Nikki Yeoh & NYJO Present: Speechmik X-Ploration, celebrated composer and pianist, Nikki Yeoh is joined on stage by a 19-piece ensemble of NYJO musicians. The expanded line-up for this performance, including strings and woodwind, shows Yeoh and NYJO re-examining the textural and stylistic boundaries of large ensemble jazz in contemporary UK society.

Adding to Yeoh’s awe-inspiring compositions, the show features moving visuals, specially designed by Bret Syfert, which accompany and build on the music being played on stage – creating a transfixing atmosphere that must be experienced live.

How did Nikki Yeoh first get involved?

Nikki Yeoh’s seminal multimedia work promotes a message of unity and plurality, which remains poignant today. Over a quarter of a century after it was first commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and Bath Festival in 1997. Just before the COVID-19 pandemic, NYJO asked Yeoh to rearrange the piece and invited her to tour it around the country with our young musicians – bringing new life into the work.

Inspired by the music of Hermeto Pascoal and his experiments with speech, Yeoh uses an original poem as the central motif. Through the piece the poem is repeated 6 times, in 6 different languages, each masterfully accompanied by Yeoh on piano. The cadence, melodies and rhythms of each interpretation compose a rich tapestry of language and sound on which the ensemble builds, to create an ever-expanding sonic narrative.

NYJO will also be performing a brand-new work as part of the concert. Can you tell us a little more about that?

Complementing this re-interpretation of ‘Speechmik’ is a brand-new companion piece, ‘Nucleus’, especially commissioned by NYJO and dedicated to legendary UK trumpet player and educator, Ian Carr, who was a major influence in Yeoh’s musical upbringing, as well as a driving force in progressive UK jazz, fronting the jazz-rock band of the same name.

The second half of the show features 5 new arrangements of Carr’s music by 5 NYJO musicians (Rianna Henriques, Andrew Chen, Asha Parkinson, Flori Maunders, and Tom Hardy), who have each picked their favourite of the late trumpeter’s songs to be played by the NYJO ensemble.

member of National Youth Jazz Orchestra playing the trumpet

What you do hope audiences will take away from the concert?

We hope audiences enjoy this special show, which brings together the best of the past, present, and future of UK Jazz (in the form of the late Ian Carr, Nikki Yeoh, and 19 young emerging professional musicians). Besides the exceptional sonic experience, Bret Syfert’s audiovisual journey throughout the performance makes for a truly unforgettable experience.

Book For NYJO and Nikki Yeoh on Tuesday 30 April

Tickets £32. Student and U18 tickets just £5.50

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