In 2002, following a decade of planning, the Youth Orchestra of the Americas (YOA) auditioned its first group of performers, with NEC as a founding partner, Jordan Hall as its rehearsal location and its touring point of departure, and NEC students among the orchestra members. This was the first youth orchestra to bring together North, South, and Central America through youth, musical education, and cultural interaction.
YOA embarked on a three-week tour of the Americas in its debut season, and has continued to re-form and tour annually. In July 2009, NEC sponsored four Boston-area YOA concerts as part of the orchestra's summer tour of North America. Seventy-five of the most talented young musicians from across the Western Hemisphere, joined by world-class conductors, faculty, and guest artists, embarked on an international tour of concerts and community outreach programs. In Boston, there were concerts in NEC's Jordan Hall and at the Hatch Shell.