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At the heart of English folk
National Youth Folk Ensemble

National Youth Folk Ensemble

The National Youth Folk Ensemble celebrates excellence in youth folk music, bringing together talented young folk musicians from across England to create and perform inspiring new arrangements of folk music and work with leading folk artists. 

With young musicians at the heart of the programme, the National Youth Folk Ensemble aims to nurture their talents, aspirations and creativity, enabling them to develop into the folk performers, educators and leaders of the future.

The Ensemble’s Artistic Director from October 2019 is Sam Partridge, working with a team of leading folk artist-educators. The inaugural Artistic Director (2016–2019) was Sam Sweeney.

Hear the Ensemble live in 2020

Music Room, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall 

Friday 21 February 2020 8pm
Hope Street, Liverpool L1 9BP
Emily Portman and Rob Harbron, two of the finest and most distinctive performers on the British folk scene, and fiddler Emma Reid, join forces with The National Youth Folk Ensemble for this special collaboration

Book now

Cecil Sharp House, London

Wednesday 8 April 2020 7.30pm
2 Regent’s Park Road, London NW1 7AY
This is your chance to hear folk stars of the future!

Book now

The National Youth Folk Ensemble:

  • takes talented young folk musicians from across England
  • has up to 25 players
  • is open to young people aged 14–18 
  • is open to any instrument 
  • focuses mainly on instrumental music, with song and dance included as elements of the programme
  • has a significant focus on English traditional folk music, reflecting its regional variety, complemented by folk music from wider Britain and beyond
  • includes newly devised and composed music drawing from the tradition
  • offers membership on an annual basis via audition
  • meets for residential courses, rehearsals and performances at various locations across England
  • aims to complement, build on and help link existing youth folk music provision
  • seeks positive relationships with similar youth folk music ensembles in the other nations of the UK and, in time, beyond

a set that was startling in its virtuosity, its variety and the confidence with which these teenage performers handled themselves on stage

Folk Radio UK, September 2019

Longer-term development plans (requiring additional funding) include:

  • extension opportunities for 19–25 year olds who have 'graduated' from the ensemble
  • an engagement programme that will help foster the growth of local and regional youth folk music ensembles, courses etc., particularly where there is currently little provision


With the Ensemble we aim to increase opportunities for young people and audiences to discover folk music and raise the profile of folk music in England through high quality performance and learning experiences. 

Longer term, we aim to enable progression from earliest grassroots activity in schools and community settings to professional careers and lifelong engagement with folk music.

The National Youth Folk Ensemble is an English Folk Dance and Song Society programme, funded by Arts Council England.  Additional funding from the Garfield Weston Foundation.


Arts Council England    

Support Youth Folk

Make a donation to support the National Youth Folk Ensemble


National Youth Folk Ensemble on Instagram

See highlights from the Ensemble's residential courses and performances