NYJO in Durham: Creative Composition

November 22, 2022

NYJO Learning is partnering with Durham Music Service on an exciting creative composition project. Led by NYJO alumna Olivia Murphy, the arranger and guest Music Director of our Amy Winehouse: A Celebration of Her Life & Music programme in 2021-2022, with support from Fergus Quill, a composer and bass player with the NYJO Jazz Exchange – the project will be delivered through workshops taking place in Durham from November to March 2023.

Under Olivia’s guidance, the sessions will have a focus on creative music making, and the group will create a brand-new piece, which will have its debut performance at the Sage Gatehouse on the 30th of March.

As a service, we hope that the Creative Composition project attracts a wide range of young musicians from across County Durham. We want to develop a creative space for young musicians from brass, orchestral and pop backgrounds to play together. We hope that the project gives young musicians an opportunity to express themselves through composition and open their eyes to the different ways a piece can be created. We want to inspire young musicians in County Durham to develop their creating playing and spark a passion for jazz.  

Amy Leggett, Durham Music Service



Olivia is a multi-award-winning composer, conductor and multi-instrumentalist based in Southeast London. After studying jazz saxophone at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Olivia has found composition her main focus writing, arranging and conducting for ensembles such as NYJO and her own 21-piece band, the Olivia Murphy Jazz Orchestra.  

I am so excited to be working with Durham Music Service for this composition project. Working in this environment is really refreshing and fulfilling as we explore different ways we can compose music together. I am particularly excited to see the young musicians be really open to improvising freely and taking solos within the ensemble as well as contributing their own ideas and opinions about the music we are creating together. 

Olivia Murphy


If you work for a Hub or Music Service and are interesting in getting involved with our Widening Access programme, please get in touch today!

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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