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THE SCOOP | Naomi Woo Named First Woman Music Director Of NYO Canada

By Anya Wassenberg on December 6, 2023

L: Naomi Woo (Photo courtesy of the artist); R: NYO Canada at Koerner Hall 2023 (Photo courtesy of the NYO Canada)
L: Naomi Woo (Photo courtesy of the artist); R: NYO Canada at Koerner Hall 2023 (Photo courtesy of the NYO Canada)

The National Youth Orchestra of Canada (NYO Canada) has announced the precedent-setting appointment of Naomi Woo as Music Director for its 2024/2025 seasons. Maestra Woo will be the first woman to hold the position in the organization’s history.

“As NYO Canada embarked on the quest for its next musical director, Naomi Woo emerged as the foremost candidate to usher in the next era of young orchestral musicians and showcase their talents nationwide. We are thrilled to announce our collaboration with Naomi Woo, a historic appointment as the first female music director in our organization’s rich history. It is a privilege to work alongside her and benefit from her mentorship during the upcoming two summer sessions and tours, marking a significant chapter in NYO Canada’s musical journey,” remarks NYO Canada CEO, Christie Gray.

Naomi Woo

Naomi earned a PhD from the University of Cambridge, where she studied as a Gates Cambridge Scholar. She has also studied music along with mathematics and philosophy at Yale College, the Yale School of Music, and Université de Montréal.

She is bilingual, and has served as guest conductor for some of Canada’s major orchestras, including the Toronto Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic, and Regina Symphony.

Naomi is part of Tapestry’s Women In Musical Leadership programme, and works closely with mentor Yannick Nézet-Séguin. For the current 2023/24 season, she joins the Orchestre Metropolitan as Artistic Partner, and for 2024/25, she will take up the position of Assistant Conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

She has conducted the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, and is an assistant/cover conductor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She also conducts classical subscription concerts with the Orchestre Symphonique de Laval, Orchestre Symphonique de Trois-Rivières, Orchestre symphonique de la Côte-Nord, Symphony Nova Scotia, and the Thunder Bay Symphony — among many other professional assignments.

L: Naomi Woo (Photo courtesy of the artist); R: NYO Canada at Koerner Hall 2023 (Photo courtesy of the NYO Canada)
L: Naomi Woo (Photo courtesy of the artist); R: NYO Canada at Koerner Hall 2023 (Photo courtesy of the NYO Canada)

Also of note:

  • Four-year appointment as Assistant Conductor of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra;
  • Inaugural Music Director of Sistema Winnipeg;
  • Music Director of the University of Manitoba Symphony Orchestra;
  • Winner of the 2022 Canada Council for the Arts Virginia Parker Prize.

Naomi is also a prize-winning pianist.

“I’m really excited for the musicians of NYO 2024 to come away from the experience feeling inspired, optimistic and positive about the future of classical music, the future of their place in the field, and the place of all their peers, colleagues and new friends,” said Music Director Naomi Woo in a statement. “And I also hope that, like I was at that age and continue to be, they come away completely addicted to the feeling of what it’s like to be a small part of something so much bigger than yourself; how the whole can be so much more than the sum of its parts.”

She succeeds Sacha Goetzel, who held the position for a two-year term.

The National Youth Orchestra of Canada 2024

The National Youth Orchestra of Canada will be launching their Horizons Tour in the summer of 2024, which will take them from Calgary to Kingston and many stops in between — including Toronto’s Koerner Hall on July 19.

NYO Canada is currently accepting applications for audition for the 2024 Orchestra [HERE]. The deadline for application is February 1st, 2024.

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