Dedicated to bringing harp playing to the fore
The National Youth Harp Orchestra of Great Britain (formerly the International Harp Ensemble) brings harp playing to the fore. It is a platform of unique and tremendous opportunities for harp enthusiasts of all ages. It is a positive and inspirational training ground for the world of performing. The repertoire is rich in diversity, impeccably presented and performed to the highest standard. The sky is the limit…
Experience the Beauty of Harp Music
The National Youth Harp Orchestra has the dual benefit of providing both the harpists and the audience with a truly unique experience of seeing and listening to the magic of a thousand strings.
The Magic of a Thousand Strings
The aim is of NYHO is to provide a platform for harp musicians to work together, gain confidence, experience and improve their skills through regular rehearsals and broader concert arrangements
Concerts – News & Events
Unique in Europe, the National Youth Harp Orchestra of Great Britain, (formerly known as the International Harp Ensemble) offers an incomparable opportunity to experience the timeless fascination of the harp.
Founded by award-winning harpist Luisa-Maria Cordell in 2001 as the International Harp Ensemble and renamed the National Youth Harp Orchestra of Great Britain in September 2014, now numbers over 40 harpists of all ages. All are dedicated to bringing ‘the magic of a thousand strings’ to a wider public.
“My object in founding the Orchestra was to bring this magical and mysterious instrument ‘out of the closet’ and to make it available to a wider audience,” explains Luisa-Maria. “I wanted to show the instrument in all its variety. Our repertoire is firmly grounded in the best traditions of classical harpistry, but we also have a modern side. Coldplay and the theme to The Pink Panther feature on our set list alongside Debussy and Ortiz.”
Renowned international harpist Marisa Robles has spoken of the “simply beautiful and passionate playing” of the Orchestra. Isabel Buxton, a producer for BBC TV’s Blue Peter, on which the National Youth Harp Orchestra appeared in its 2007 Christmas Special as the International Harp Ensemble, echoes her sentiments: “The performance was a truly magical highlight of our Christmas show and the skill and professionalism that the children displayed in a pressured live studio environment was superb.”
The National Youth Harp Orchestra tours widely both in the United Kingdom and abroad, and has delighted audiences at venues as varied as Cadogan Hall, The Royal Albert Hall, The Barbican, and Windsor Castle. They have also embarked on the following tours:
2003: Belgium, 2004: France (Carcasonne), 2005: Portugal, 2006: Wales, 2007: France (Paris), 2008: France (Albi), 2009: UK (Dorset), 2010: Germany, 2012: France (Albi), 2013: USA (Richmond & Washington DC), 2014: Holland, 2015: UK (Return visit by AYHE), 2016: Hungary, 2017: Italy and Germany, 2018: Ireland, 2019: Channel Islands, 2022: Wales (World Harp Congress), 2023: Portugal, 2024: Portugal & Spain.
In 2013 they were privileged to play for the Clinton Family at a reception at the British Embassy in Washington DC. The following year they toured The Netherlands and featured in a recording by Stichting PiM TV.
The National Youth Harp Orchestra’s interests are rounded off by numerous fund-raising activities in support of charities such a Cancer Research, Meningitis Research and Leukaemia Research, for which the group has raised thousands of pounds. (Please visit our Charitable Trust page for more details.
The National Youth Harp Orchestra began with just eight enthusiasts, but has now grown to over forty harpists.
Their popularity can be attributed to the uniqueness of finding so many truly dedicated harpists. The sound of just one harp is beautiful, but when so many are brought together their sound brings a whole new dimension and experience to the performance. The National Youth Harp Orchestra is the only one of its type in the UK and was formed not only to provide professional training but also to bring a broader range and scale to the music world.
The harpists travel from all over the UK to have fun and enjoy the unique experience this ensemble offers. The aim was to provide a platform for these musicians to work together, gain confidence and experience and improve their skills through regular rehearsals and broader concert arrangements. Despite the logistical problems associated with the transportation of so many harps, the enthusiasm of the players has already seen them perform in many concerts throughout the UK and Europe.
The National Youth Harp Orchestra has the dual benefit of providing both the harpists and the audience with a truly unique experience of seeing and listening to the “Magic of a Thousand Strings”.
Luisa-Maria Cordell, Founder