Founded in 2001 by the New England Conservatory and Visión Inc., and inspired by the international movement known as El Sistema, YOA Orchestra of the Americas is an orchestra of musical leaders, ages 18 to 30, representing 25 countries of the Americas.

Since YOA’s inaugural Residence at NEC, the orchestra has performed more than 300 concerts in settings that range from the most prestigious concert halls of Europe, Asia, and the Americas, to outdoor venues not often associated with symphonic music. YOA has reached millions through live performances, television and radio broadcasts, CD recordings, print media, and documentary films. The orchestra has held two full Residences at NEC (2002 & 2009), and taken part in side-by-side concerts with NEC in locations as diverse as The Vatican (in photo) and China.

YOA’s mission is to bring together energetic, talented musicians to pursue excellence and celebrate cultural diversity as a catalyst for social change. YOA has become an international brand by bringing renowned artists—from Yo-Yo Ma to Paquito D’Rivera, from Plácido Domingo to Philip Glass—into the lives of young musicians and diverse audiences.

Free and open auditions are held annually via YouTube, removing the cost of international postage, to ensure that any deserving and eligible musician can apply. Following adjudication by prestigious Faculty, all musicians in the new orchestra participate on full scholarship, to achieve the greatest equality and diversity possible.

The season centerpiece is a July-August Residence and Concert Tour held each year in different regions of the world. Musicians, Faculty, Conductors, and Guest Artists gather for a 2-week Residence of daily full orchestra and sectional rehearsals to prepare diverse and challenging repertoire to take on Tour.

The Global Leaders Program is a tuition-free, year-long fellowship combining on-site leadership experience in diverse international settings with remote classroom training. By creating a platform for the most exceptional candidates from each graduating class to gain access to unique leadership training, YOA is empowering the next generation of social entrepreneurs.

The Impact of YOA stretches far beyond its programs. Participants return to their native countries to share experiences and gained knowledge with their communities. YOA connects musicians to institutions of higher learning and professional job opportunities. YOA was the model for music education startups in Brasil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Panamá, Saint Lucia, the United States, and Uruguay.