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National Youth Folk Ensemble

Join the National Youth Folk Ensemble

Applications are now open for the National Youth Folk Ensemble!

We are looking for talented young instrumentalists who are dedicated to developing as folk musicians and excited about collaborating with others who share their passion!

Ensemble members will:

  • participate in 4 weeks of intensive residential courses in different parts of England
  • receive high quality tuition and guidance from leading folk artists
  • develop skills in performance, arrangement, leadership and facilitation
  • give public performances


Membership is an annual commitment and the first cohort will take part from October 2016 - August 2017. The residential courses will take place in the school holidays: 23 - 28 October 2016 and February, April and August 2017.  


Application process

Sampler Days are the first stage of the audition process and will take place across England in May and June 2016. Each Sampler Day will include creative workshops with Sam Sweeney (Artistic Director 2016-17) and professional folk musicians Miranda Rutter and Rob Harbron, individual auditions, and a Q&A with Ensemble staff. 

Places on the Sampler Days are free but limited and online booking is essential. Sign up by following the links below. Select your preferred venue and fill in the relevant booking form on Eventbrite.

Following the Sampler Days, selected musicians will be invited to attend a final audition at Cecil Sharp House on 9 or 10 July 2016. 


Sampler Days 2016:

Sunday 8 May – Birmingham Conservatoire, BIRMINGHAM

Saturday 28 May – Sage Gateshead, GATESHEAD

Sunday 29 May – Leeds College of Music, LEEDS

Monday 30 May – Royal Northern College of Music, MANCHESTER

Tuesday 31 May – Derby LIVE, Guildhall Theatre, DERBY 

Thursday 2 June – Exeter Phoenix, EXETER

Friday 3 June – Cecil Sharp House, LONDON

Saturday 11 June – West Road Concert Hall, CAMBRIDGE

Sunday 12 June – Cornerstone, DIDCOT

Each Sampler Day runs from 10.30am - 4pm


Who can apply?

To register for a Sampler Day you will need to meet the following criteria:

  • You are aged 14-18 on 1 September 2016
  • You live in England
  • You are able to play confidently on any instrument
  • You are able to attend a final audition in London on 9 or 10 July 2016
  • You are able to attend 4 weeks of residential courses in the school holidays (23 – 28 October 2016, February 2017, April 2017 and August 2017)


We are looking for musicians who demonstrate:

  • Confidence, accuracy and skill on their chosen instrument
  • Interest in folk music 
  • Ability to learn and play music by ear
  • Folk character and style from any tradition
  • Passion for playing and collaborating with others
  • Interest in developing arrangements and creating music collaboratively
  • Commitment to learning and developing as a musician
  • Open-mindedness and willingness to share ideas  


The National Youth Folk Ensemble welcomes applications from disabled musicians. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to discuss your access requirements. 



Membership of the National Youth Folk Ensemble comes with an annual fee of £400.

We want everyone who is offered a place in the Ensemble to be able to take it up. We are able to offer some financial support if the fee or travel costs are unaffordable. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to discuss your circumstances and financial aid options. 


If you have any questions please contact Sarah Jones, Programme Manager for the National Youth Folk Ensemble, on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Arts Council England