Anglo-German youth collaboration celebrates 100 years of jazz

Britain’s National Youth Jazz Orchestra and the Youth Jazz Orchestra of Germany have performed a series of concerts in both countries, together.

Britain’s National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) and the Youth Jazz Orchestra of Germany (BuJazzO) have been performing a series of concerts in celebration of 100 years of jazz beginning with WC Handy's 'St Louis Blues' in 1914.

The two orchestras have come together to celebrate “Freedom and Friendship: A Century of Jazz”. The project started in  Germany where the combined orchestra played three concerts plus a pop-up concert from a twenty piece band at a Cologne tube station. Two concerts took place in the UK at the Leeds College of Music and the London’s Purcell Rooms as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival.

BuJazzO comprises young musicians from 17 to 24 years of age selected from across Germany and is state funded. Britain’s NYJO has musicians of any age up to 25 and draws from open auditions and jazz music conservatoires.

NYJO’s Chair Nigel Tully said, “When we were first introduced in Bremen, it felt really exciting. Both bands are made up of musicians who are the very best of their age group in the country.”

“Jazz is a generous art form. It’s much more than individual improvisation, because you have to respond to what others play. Jazz is essentially collaborative because the better others play, the better you play”.

“Two years ago I read about the celebrations being planned in the UK for the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the First World War. I thought it could be awful. It could just be English triumphalism. We decided we had to do something. We had to find a way of bringing young musicians together, and together say that war must never happen again. And it’s been wonderful.”

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