NYJO Stories: Emma Rawicz

July 12, 2022

Growing up in rural North Devon, Emma didn’t discover jazz until the age of 15, and didn’t pick up a tenor saxophone until a year later, but had spent her childhood otherwise immersed in largely folk and classical music. 

One of our earliest experiences with Emma was seeing her take part at our Foyle’s Jazz Jams back in 2019 when she was still involved in NYJO’s Academy set-up. Since then, Emma’s playing has seen her appear on stages all over the country, both with NYJO and a plethora of other bands (including her own). Not stopping there, her Instagram account boasts an amazing library of videos featuring practise routines, transcriptions, live footage and much more. What was always easy to notice was Emma’s insatiable appetite for music, and to grow and learn as fast as she could. 

Since those early jams back in 2019, Emma has featured on as many NYJO projects as any other musician can claim over that three-year period, including her Ronnie Scott’s debut as a part of our NYJO Presents series in 2021. Whether it’s a Jazz Orchestra show, a unique concept tour like Monk at Town Hall, or playing with the Jazz Exchange to create new, original works – she has taken it all in her stride and left her mark for all to see. A more humble, but important credit, comes from her time in a support role for several learning projects, full circle from when she herself was a part of NYJO’s junior set-up. 

The JX programme has been hugely helpful to me so far, consistently pushing me to explore new areas of composition, playing and collaborating with others, in many different formats. On top of this, I’ve been able to meet and play with many incredible musicians, and explore whole new ways of playing; I’ve even started experimenting with effects pedals with my sax, and arranging for very different groups of instruments.

Emma Rawicz, NYJO Musician


Emma Rawicz is now an award-winning young saxophonist and composer, making waves on the UK music scene in her own right. She has been described as ‘a force to be reckoned with’ (Jazzwise) and ‘a fast rising star’ (London Jazz News), and at the age of 19, Emma has been a recipient of the 2021 Drake Yolanda Award, recorded her debut album ‘Incantation’ and most recently, received the Jazz Newcomer of the Year from the Parlimentary Jazz Awards. 


Emma discusses her NYJX composition “Vera”  

A striking, confident performer, Emma’s influences range from modern jazz and fusion to folk and soul, key figures in her musical development including Chris Potter, Ari Hoenig, Kenny Jarrett, Joe Henderson, Chick Corea and more.  

You can keep up with all of her many musical projects by following her on Instagram at @EmmaRawiczMusic now. 

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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