Nikki Iles and Orphy Robinson for new NYJO board


    The 24-piece National Youth Jazz Orchestra gets a new board in January 2021. The organisation, which conceded in its 2019 trustees’ report that its orchestra “remains stubbornly uniform in gender, ethnicity and socio-economic background” has recently consciously been seeking diversity of gender and ethnicity.

    It notes that “as of 2021, 50% of board members will be female and three of the eight black”. Among the new members will be pianist Nikki Iles and vibraphonist Orphy Robinson.

    The new board will also include business psychologist Clive Lewis, who said: “I’m particularly keen to support the organisation’s objective of bringing jazz to more disadvantaged communities.” Lewis recently wrote a paper to help address issues raised by the Black Lives Matter Movement.

    The organisation, a charity funded by the Arts Council and the National Lottery, counts among its vice-presidents Guy Barker, Baroness Amos, Lord Coe, Lord Colwyn, Cleo Laine and Kelvyn Hopkins. Its music and artistic director is trumpeter Mark Armstrong.

    Founded in 1965 by Bill Ashton, who remains life president, NYJO says it “exists to empower young jazz musicians and inspire music audiences across the UK through grassroots learning projects and impactful live performances” and to “level the playing field in jazz education”. It also sets out to provide “captivating experiences that both inspire and entertain”.