The National Youth Orchestra of Ireland


We are hiring!

28 September 2023

As Ireland’s leading youth orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland (NYOI) has been nurturing young people’s musical talent and orchestral experience for over 50 years, guided by some of Ireland’s most talented music professionals, with a series of workshops and performances in Ireland and abroad.

The NYOI is constituted as a company limited by guarantee and is a registered charity. Our mission is to provide exceptional educational and performance opportunities for young musicians from across the island of Ireland in the full symphonic repertoire, to support their development to the greatest extent of their talents.

With an ambition to grow the scale and reach of our work, we are now looking for a highly self-motivated, dynamic and ambitious General Manager who will take on the full-time role of running this special organisation which has been pivotal in the musical, professional and personal development of nearly 5,000 young people.

The General Manager will report directly to the NYOI Board and support the Board in delivering on its new Strategic Plan 2024-2028, a copy of which is available on request. The General Manager is supported by a half-time marketing, events and administrative assistant, and an external financial controller. The Strategic Plan also provides for the new role of part-time Artistic Director.

Person specification
The NYOI is looking for someone with at least 5 years’ experience at a senior level in arts management. To fill the General Manager role, you will have strong leadership qualities and a proven track record in project and event management including financial control, experience in grant-writing, strategic development and implementation, and familiarity with non-profit organisational governance, regulation and compliance.
The successful candidate will be flexible, creative, highly motivated and a team player, with strong communication and interpersonal skills and a demonstrable history of managing external stakeholder relationships - including our young members (more than 100 on each course) and their parents/guardians, funders, peer organisations and artistic personnel. You will be comfortable working with children and young people and engaging closely with their parents/guardians and teachers, and ideally you will have some direct experience in this highly regulated area (the appointment, like all roles in the NYOI, is subject to our child welfare policies).
Ideally, you will have a working knowledge of classical music-making and some familiarity with the orchestral environment.

Key responsibilities
Reporting to the Board, the General Manager is responsible for
• The general management of the organisation including the supervision of all staff and contract personnel
• Routine financial control in cooperation with the external financial controller, including the provision of regular management accounts and the procuring of an annual audit in line with Charity SORP standards
• Organising live auditions for aspiring orchestra members in up to five venues throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland each year and offering places based on the outcome
• Organising two residential courses (in each case followed by public performances) for about 105 young musicians in December and August each year, engaging up to 24 professional musical and welfare staff in each case
• Liaising with the Board Artistic Committee in securing and contracting guest artists and conductors
• Managing all aspects of the NYOI’s relationships with State and private funders, ensuring all applications for funding are made in a professional and timely way, and meeting the compliance requirements of charity and company regulators
• Maintaining the NYOI’s external peer relationships with professional orchestras, other youth ensembles and relevant lead bodies in Ireland and Europe
• Managing the performance of the marketing, events and administrative assistant

The position is based in our office and storage premises in Duleek, Co Meath, with provision for hybrid working arrangements. Some weekend work will be required for the bi-annual residential workshops and tours, with provision for time off in lieu. Given the nature of our work, the successful candidate will be required to have their own vehicle and a full clean driving licence.

Salary is negotiable depending on skills and experience.
Please submit your CV, with covering letter, for the attention of the Chairperson to no later than 6pm on Friday 20th October 2023.

We will make this appointment in line with the provisions of our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy. The NYOI promotes a work and performing environment free from unlawful discrimination. The Employment Equality Acts and the Equal Status Acts set out nine protected grounds in relation to which no discrimination should occur. These grounds are gender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, age, disability, race, religion and membership of the Traveller community.
The NYOI is committed to equality of opportunity, and operates non-discriminatory practices in relation to access to employment, conditions of employment and access to performing experience for all who come into contact with the NYOI in the course of our work.

Employment decisions will not be made with reference to these grounds unless there are legitimate criteria given the particular situation, as permitted by legislation.

It is the policy of the NYOI to recognise people (employees, course staff, players) as a key resource required for the successful attainment of our mission. In support of this, we recognise that the differences between people, whether derived from their different backgrounds and personalities, cultures and/or their different abilities, can be a source of strength to the NYOI.

The National Youth Orchestra of Ireland is a symphony orchestra for young musicians living anywhere on the island of Ireland. Currently the age range is 12-18 years. To participate in the orchestra, every player is required to audition or re-audition each year. The admission standard requires the performance of stock orchestral excerpts, and auditions are conducted each October by an independent music professional in 5 centres around Ireland, including two in Northern Ireland.

Once the young player meets the performing standard, the orchestra works with them and their family to meet any special needs they may have of a social, learning or any other kind – part of the routine process of induction. Besides qualifying players to participate, the adjudicator assigns a score which is used by the tutors in assigning a specific position in the orchestra.

Auditions are advertised on the NYOI website, and audition prep advice is provided. A small fee contributes to the cost of the process. Successful applicants represent about 50% of those auditioned, and typically each year about 35% new players join the orchestra, as 18 year-olds or others step out. Separately each November, the NYOI also runs auditions for Irish candidates - mostly older players - on behalf of the European Union Youth Orchestra for which it is the national partner.

Once admitted, the player is entitled to play in the two following residential courses – a seven-day one in winter (including one day for a concert performance) and a ten-day one in summer (including three performances). About every three years the summer course and performances are held overseas – most recently in Abu Dhabi, Lisbon and Amsterdam.

Many young players already play in a smaller local orchestra or ensemble at their school or college or in their local area – the NYOI provides the only opportunity in the Republic of Ireland for young people to rehearse and perform the full range of symphonic repertoire under professional guidance. According to its members, the NYOI provides playing opportunities of the highest artistic standards available in Ireland .

The NYOI has its own bank of instruments and equipment including auxiliary instruments that young players don’t routinely own (such as bass clarinet, contrabassoon, Cor Anglaise, timpani and other percussion instruments) – in many cases giving them their first experience of playing these. For players on a professional path this auxiliary instrumental experience is essential to their employability, their remuneration and hence their career prospects as orchestral artists.

Resource sharing (including instruments and equipment) between the NYOI and other orchestras – professional and youth ensembles – is continuous and routine to its way of working, as is partnership on shared projects in promoting the NYOI’s educational remit.

The residential courses are held in school holidays, using the premises of secondary boarding schools. Aside from the artistic challenges, forging a successful ensemble from 105 young individuals represents a formidable logistic challenge for which a professional team of 13 welfare staff, and 14 professional tutors including an orchestra manager are retained. To maximise the opportunities for participation, in 2017 the NYOI initiated anti-clash planning with other ensembles including those managed by the Association of Irish Youth Orchestras, since some of the players also play with other ensembles in the same periods.

The annual fee (unchanged for more than fifteen years @ €750 per member) contributes to but does not cover all of the residential costs of up to 105 players, including transport to and from the courses and to the end-of course concerts, as well as meals on the course and on the road. Fees are waived in about 10% of cases, at the discretion of the General Manager. A contribution to players’ subsistence, as well as the full artistic and educational costs of running the courses are covered by State grants augmented by modest box office income.

The artistic and educational staff are drawn from the NYOI’s roster of senior orchestral players and teachers, all Garda vetted since players under 18 years are considered vulnerable persons under child protection legislation. Guest conductors from Ireland and overseas are engaged based on their artistic reputation and on their track record with young players. On each course, the members of the orchestra have a players’ committee to ensure that any issues of concern – personal or artistic - are dealt with in a timely and appropriate way.

Artistic decisions – currently made by a sub-committee of the Board in dialogue with the guest conductor – reflect the orchestra’s strengths: in Summer 2023 for example the programme included a requirement for piano, celeste and tubular bells. The music for each section is circulated in advance, and tutors meet their players over a Zoom call to help them prepare for sectional rehearsals – a welcome post-pandemic innovation and a way of identifying any potential sources of anxiety or concern to individual members. Following a half week with section tutors and a rehearsal conductor in the course residential venue, the full orchestra comes together for tutti rehearsals with the visiting conductor on day 5.

At the end of the Summer course, the orchestra tours the programme to venues around Ireland: the Winter course involves only one performance. A professional recording is made of each programme for archive and promotional purposes, and for live streaming on YouTube.