National Youth Orchestra of Kenya 2017-03-29T09:00:16+00:00

Welcome to The National Orchestra Youth of Kenya!

The National Youth Orchestra of Kenya is a pioneering education and training project which was set up by the Art of Music Foundation in 2010.

Inspired by the success of Venezuela’s El Sistema organisation in bringing communities together and developing national pride through music participation, the National Youth Orchestra of Kenya (or KNYO as it is often called) brings together musically gifted youth from around the country regardless of their socio-economic, ethnic or regional background and it is the first truly national orchestra in Kenya.

The orchestra encourages, nurtures and showcases their talent. By pursuing and encouraging excellence we believe we are setting a benchmark for the country and giving other youth with talent something to aspire to. Our ultimate aim is link the community based Ghetto Classics programmes with the National Youth Orchestra our vision being that we would have a network of community music programmes that all link up to a national ensemble of the highest standard.



The 15th residential of the National Youth Orchestra of Kenya, held in December 2016, was a successful one by any standard. Like a youthful 15 year old finding their footing through the ups and downs of teenage, this past December saw an exciting new chapter for the orchestra unveiled – the training of its next crop of conductors! Any of them can tell you it’s one thing to be an instrumentalist in an orchestra but to stand before one and have the orchestra transform into your instrument? Quite a different matter. Holding a baton in your hand requires a lot or artistry and for the young conductors, studying a score, communicating with the orchestra and finally bringing music to life was an unforgettable experience.


It wasn’t just the conductors experiencing growth by immersion; it was a week of intense learning for everyone involved. Building upon previous residential trainings, a core team of young leaders, under the valuable guidance of the musical director, Mr Levi Wataka, played a key role in organising this residential. This included musical details such as sorting out music for the players to the non-musical, for instance, coming up with activities for team building and coordinating transport arrangements. This last one was particularly significant as we were in 2 venues over the course of one week – Hillcrest Secondary school, Nairobi and St. Andrew’s Turi, in Molo. These two schools have been particularly generous with hosting the orchestra over the past couple of years and we remain thankful for their help in keeping this dream alive.


KNYO is a representation of an ideal Kenya. An environment of team work, integrity and hard work. An environment where precious life lessons are imparted in the course of playing music. Picture this. Tuesday morning – you have before you, music you have never played before. A whole lot of it. And you have to put up a concert on Sunday. So imagine the amount of practice involved, the discipline acquired and the friendships made in the course of learning how to make sense of this music. You may have spotted #knyores15 or #vivaKNYO somewhere on the interwebs. Do have a look to see all the photos, videos and moments from what makes a residential truly memorable.


2017 for KNYO looks promising thus far. This is also an election year for Kenya and these words by Jean Sibelius, a Finnish composer, ring true during this time. “If we understood the world we would understand that there is a logic of harmony underlying its manifold apparent dissonances.” It is our hope, as an orchestra, to continue playing a part in celebrating our diversity as a country and finding even more ways to be one as a nation. Even better? When YOU can join us on this journey. To do so, keep an eye out for all our activities on this website and our social media platforms.

Take a look at a few of our photos!

Following are some pictures displaying the members of the The National Orchestra Youth of Kenya performing at various events across the country. They also include many teachers and instructors who’ve generously been a part of us for a long time.