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Hampshire students join the National Youth Orchestra

Hampshire County Council’s Music Service is proud to announce that three of their students have been invited to play in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (NYO). Rachel Carver, Rachel Maxey and Ellie Nugent have successfully auditioned for places in the top national student orchestra. The students recount their experiences here.

Rachel Carver started the harp aged 8, joined the National Children’s Orchestra (NCO) as principal harp (Under 12s) aged 11, and then won an NCO/Leverhulme Scholarship. She left the NCO last year and is thrilled to have been offered a place in the National Youth Orchestra.

Rachel Carver

Rachel says, The NYO audition was a nerve-wracking experience although everyone was very thoughtful. My first NYO course was incredible. I was amazed at the dedication of the staff and orchestra members alike, and was inspired by the energy and vibrancy of the playing. I can’t wait for the next course and all the challenges and joys it will bring.”

Rachel Maxey started violin aged 5 under the Hampshire Music Service Suzuki programme, joined the Eastleigh Area Strings Orchestra at 8, and by the age of 10 had successfully auditioned for the Hampshire County Youth String Orchestra. At a Hampshire Music Service residential course Rachel was introduced to the viola and fell in love with it immediately, and by the age of 14 she had gained the position of Principal Viola in the Hampshire County Youth Orchestra.

Rachel Maxey

Photo courtesy of Tim Griffiths (

Rachel’s current viola teacher suggested that she audition for one of only 18 viola places in the National Youth Orchestra. Rachel says, I never thought that I would get a place, so when I found out that I’d got through the first round of auditions I was really excited.” She continues, I was a little bit apprehensive about the first course, but in fact it turned out to be the best two weeks of my life. The days were quite long, but all the hard work was definitely worth it when we performed in Leeds, Liverpool and the Barbican Hall in London. It was a great experience and learning curve and I would encourage anyone who was thinking about auditioning to have a go – you never know what will happen!”

For as long as she can remember, Ellie Nugent has been extremely passionate about music and determined to achieve her dreams and ambitions. After beginning piano at the age of 7, and flute at 11, she set herself the challenge of achieving Grade 8 on both instruments by 2008, which she did by obtaining distinctions in both. All the hard work has paid off for Ellie, who won the Portsmouth Festivities Recital Prize in March 2010, became the Newbury Young Musician of the Year 2010, and has been invited to perform with the Southern Sinfonia later this year.

Ellie Nugent

Photo courtesy of Tim Griffiths (

Ellie says, One of my greatest achievements so far is receiving a place in the National Youth Orchestra. This has given me numerous opportunities to work with internationally acclaimed musicians and the excitement of meeting so many like-minded people! The repertoire so far has been varied and energetic, and I know it will continue to be like this on the future courses. Giving me a real insight into the world of musicians, NYO has left me feeling truly inspired and longing for more!”

Jill Larner, Head of the Hampshire Music Service says, Huge congratulations to our three County Ensemble members who have been awarded places in the National Youth Orchestra this year. It is extremely competitive to gain a place in this group, and they have all worked so hard to achieve the required standard. I am delighted that they will be flying the Hampshire Music Service flag on the national stage and that they have all chosen to continue to support their Hampshire ensembles. Very best wishes to Rachel, Rachel and Ellie for their next National Youth Orchestra course and concerts.”

For further information on the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, please visit: