Nikki Yeoh & NYJO Present: Speechmik X-Ploration

December 19, 2023

Nikki Yeoh’s seminal multimedia work ‘Speechmik X-Ploration’ promotes a message of unity and plurality, which remains poignant today, over a quarter of a century after it was first commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and Bath Festival in 1997. A new reorchestration of the piece will see Yeoh joined on stage by a 19-piece ensemble from the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO).

Inspired by the music of Hermeto Pascoal and his experiments with speech, Yeoh uses an original poem as the central motif. Through the piece the poem is repeated 6 times, in 6 different languages, each masterfully accompanied by Yeoh on piano. The cadence, melodies and rhythms of each interpretation compose a rich tapestry of language and sound, on which the NYJO ensemble builds, to create an ever-expanding sonic narrative.



Complementing this re-interpretation of ‘Speechmik’ is a brand-new companion piece, ‘Nucleus’, especially commissioned by NYJO and dedicated to legendary UK trumpet player and educator, Ian Carr, who was a major influence in Yeoh’s musical upbringing, as well as a driving force in progressive UK jazz, fronting the jazz-rock band of the same name.

The expanded line-up for this performance, including strings and woodwind, shows Yeoh and NYJO re-examining the textural and stylistic boundaries of large ensemble jazz in contemporary UK society.

After a successful premiere at Milton Court in November, Nikki Yeoh and NYJO will be taking this programme on tour in the UK in 2024. Find out where you can see us and get your tickets directly from the venues via the links below.



Nikki Yeoh

Nikki Yeoh is a creative free spirit who, although deeply rooted in the language of improvisation, is open to a range of music that leans as much to populism as it does high art. Since her emergence on the British jazz scene in the mid-90s, Nikki has proved to be an improviser, composer and all-round adventurer who has continually sought to broaden her musical horizons.

Those who have seen Yeoh will testify to her virtuosity on the keyboard. Drawing on pioneers from the worlds of jazz, classical music and soul, above all the likes of Herbie Hancock, Alexander Scriabin and Stevie Wonder, Yeoh has developed a style that can move from explosive rhythmic energy to understated lyricism at a moment’s notice. Her ability to conjure up the most vividly evocative of moods by way of subtle, probing harmony has been proven time and again.


I am delighted to be commissioned by NYJO to compose a new work, Nucleus, which is dedicated to the Trumpeter, Composer, Writer and Educator Ian Carr (21 April 1933 – 25 February 2009) with whom I studied. Writing for such a powerful ensemble as NYJO is a phenomenal experience, and a rare opportunity for me to do what I love. This piece is also dedicated to all of the Jazz Educators far and wide who give up their weekends to the service of selfless dedication to the next generation of young musicians.

Nikki Yeoh


Tour dates:

20.02.2024 • Ronnie Scott’s • London

30.04.2024 • Stoller Hall • Manchester

02.05.2024 • Saffron Hall • Saffron Walden

03.05.2024 • Cheltenham Jazz Festival • Cheltenham

Lucy-Anne (EP quote)

“Since joining NYJO, I’m so much more confident as a performer. Especially in terms of being able to entertain and keep the crowd engaged with you. It’s really nice to be able to feel that difference.” 

Lucy-Anne, NYJO Emerging Professional (Vocals)

Georgia (EP quote)

“It’s hard to just learn this music in the practice room but being immersed in the music at NYJO is a great environment to really push my playing. ” 

Georgia Ayew, NYJO Emerging Professional (Drums)

Sam Eastmond (MD quote)

"Giving them space to create whatever they wanted, without setting parameters of idiom or style helped them to conceptualise how they could bring these new concepts into their work without scaring them off, or mystifying the process."

Sam Eastmond, NYJO Educator

Jazzwise quote

"NYJO has never been conformist, never hewing to one particular line, never known for fawning replications and very deliberately these days a vehicle for new possibilities."

Jazzwise Magazine

Lydia (EP quote)

"The past year has been an absolutely incredible experience, pushing me way out of my comfort zone into playing with some of the greatest young jazz players of my generation and getting to call them my colleagues and friends has been beyond inspiring, and also an obscene amount of fun!"

Lydia Cochrane, NYJO Emerging Professional (Saxophone)

Anna (Learning national quote)

"[The NYJO residential in Cumbria] helped me to make friends with other young musicians. I enjoy playing a lot more and I’m quite proud of what I’ve accomplished. I feel more confident now. I have learnt different ways of coming up with solid melodies and also a little bit on harmonies. I think it’s been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had."

Anna, NYJO Learning Widening Access participant

Briony (Learning U18s quote)

"I’ve felt very fortunate to be surrounded by amazing musicians, and I think that the environment at NYJO – which has fostered creativity and improvisation – has allowed my confidence and musical ideas to grow."

Briony, NYJO Under 18s

Oscar (Learning U18s quote)

"I think I’ve progressed a lot in my piano-playing. NYJO has helped me to flourish and really enjoy it. I’ve really enjoyed being engrossed in a high level of playing and learning things in a hands-on-way. I also like the diversity of perspectives and abilities of all the players and teachers which enables me to try things I might not normally."

Oscar, NYJO Under 18s

Jennie (Learning U18s quote)

"NYJO has got me listening to more jazz and learning more changes. It has also helped with working as a band. I’ve really enjoyed the free jazz, learning by ear, the people, and the atmosphere."

Jennie, NYJO Under 18s

Leah-Anais (Learning U18s quote)

"I love the people at NYJO. Everyone here is so encouraging and lovely and it makes the experience worthwhile. Though I have fun I’m still learning on the way which makes me feel productive too."

Leah-Anais, NYJO Under 18s

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