A woman will lead the National Youth Orchestra of Canada for the 1st time in its 64-year history


The National Youth Orchestra of Canada (NYO Canada) has announced Naomi Woo as its music director for 2024 and 2025. She’s the first woman to lead the orchestra since it was founded in 1960.

Woo, 33, hails from West Vancouver, is an emerging symphonic and operatic conductor, an accomplished concert pianist and passionate educator. She holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge and is a graduate of the Yale School of Music and l’Université de Montréal. Woo recently completed a four-year tenure as assistant conductor of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

‘Barrier-shattering’

“As a rising star on the conducting scene and the historic first female music director in our organization’s history, Naomi Woo is perfectly poised to mentor NYO Canada’s young musicians,” reads the announcement. “This barrier-shattering collaboration highlights the progress toward gender equality in the classical music sphere, a field traditionally dominated by men.”

Each summer, NYO Canada recruits the best young classical musicians from across the country for a comprehensive training program that culminates in a concert tour. Woo will lead NYO Canada’s musicians for its summer sessions in both 2024 and 2025.

“I’m really excited for the musicians of NYO Canada to come away from the experience feeling inspired, optimistic and positive about the future of classical music, the future of their place in the field, and the place of all their peers, colleagues and new friends,” Woo says in a statement. “I also hope that, like I was at that age and continue to be, they come away completely addicted to the feeling of what it’s like to be a small part of something so much bigger than yourself; how the whole can be so much more than the sum of its parts.”

WATCH | Naomi Woo announces her NYO Canada appointment: 

Woo was the inaugural music director of Sistema Winnipeg and served as the music director of the University of Manitoba Symphony Orchestra until 2023. She won the 2022 Canada Council for the Arts Virginia Parker Prize.

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Woo has recently become a protégé of conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who chose her as the artistic partner of Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain. Beginning in the 2024-25 concert season, she’ll be assistant conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, which Nézet-Séguin also helms.

The NYOC’s summer 2024 Horizon tour will include performances in Kingston, Ont., Toronto, Parry Sound, Ont., Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Banff, Alta., and Calgary. They’re currently accepting applications for audition for the 2024 orchestra. The deadline is Feb. 1, 2024.



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