• Aberdeen International Youth Festival
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  • The Festival was created in the late 1960s by the late Blyth Major, Music Director of the Midland Youth Orchestra and the late Lionel Bryer, Chairman of the International Youth Foundation. They conceived the idea of bringing together youth orchestras from all over the world using music as a unifying bond to promote international understanding. The first International Festival of Youth Orchestras was held in 1969 in St Moritz in Switzerland.

    Invited by the British Tourist Authority, in 1973, the Festival moved to the UK and established a base both in Aberdeen and London for the following five years. Due to the superb facilities and local support in the City of Aberdeen and its University, the Festival was able to expand to incorporate all forms of dance, jazz and choral music.

    Internationally renowned guest conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Carlo Maria Giulini, Walter Susskind and Leopold Stokowski were invited to conduct the Festival Orchestra - a specially created orchestra, which was invited to appear at the Royal Albert Hall's BBC Proms and also played at the opening concert of the Edinburgh International Festival in 1978 (the first youth orchestra to appear at The Edinburgh Festival).

    Due to the growing success of AIYF and great support from the City of Aberdeen, Aberdeen University, local businesses and fabulous audiences, in 1979 the management decided to focus this international event entirely in Aberdeen and North East of Scotland.

    In 1980, the name of the Festival changed to the Aberdeen International Youth Festival - AIYF.

    AIYF is currently under the artistic direction of Stewart Aitken who also acts as the festival's CEO. In the past three years the festival has seen a steady increase in audience numbers and has continued to expand its educational and community projects.

    Part of the Festival's appeal is its ability to attract the very best in Scottish, UK and world talent year on year making sure that the creative bar is always being raised higher. Dedicated to supporting, nurturing and showcasing young artists, the festival selects the most talented individuals and groups from all over the world providing them with a platform to ‘shine' at what is recognised as one of the best celebrations of youth arts held anywhere in the world today.


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