The English Folk Dance and Song Society websites use cookies.
You can read more about cookies and how we use them here.
Continued use of this site implies that you agree to our use of cookies.  
At the heart of English folk
National Youth Folk Ensemble

National Youth Folk Ensemble

The National Youth Folk Ensemble celebrates excellence in youth folk music, bringing together talented young folk musicians from across England to create and perform inspiring new arrangements of folk music and work with leading folk artists. 

With young musicians at the heart of the programme, the National Youth Folk Ensemble aims to nurture their talents, aspirations and creativity, enabling them to develop into the folk performers, educators and leaders of the future.

The Ensemble’s Artistic Director from October 2019 will be Sam Partridge, working with a team of leading folk artist-educators. The inaugural Artistic Director (2016–2019) was Sam Sweeney.

The National Youth Folk Ensemble:

  • takes talented young folk musicians from across England
  • has up to 25 players
  • is open to young people aged 14–18 
  • is open to any instrument 
  • focuses mainly on instrumental music, with song and dance included as elements of the programme
  • has a significant focus on English traditional folk music, reflecting its regional variety, complemented by folk music from wider Britain and beyond
  • includes newly devised and composed music drawing from the tradition
  • offers membership on an annual basis via audition
  • meets for residential courses, rehearsals and performances at various locations across England
  • aims to complement, build on and help link existing youth folk music provision
  • seeks positive relationships with similar youth folk music ensembles in the other nations of the UK and, in time, beyond

a set that was startling in its virtuosity, its variety and the confidence with which these teenage performers handled themselves on stage

Folk Radio UK, September 2019

Longer-term development plans (requiring additional funding) include:

  • extension opportunities for 19–25 year olds who have 'graduated' from the ensemble
  • an engagement programme that will help foster the growth of local and regional youth folk music ensembles, courses etc., particularly where there is currently little provision


With the Ensemble we aim to increase opportunities for young people and audiences to discover folk music and raise the profile of folk music in England through high quality performance and learning experiences. 

Longer term, we aim to enable progression from earliest grassroots activity in schools and community settings to professional careers and lifelong engagement with folk music.

The National Youth Folk Ensemble is an English Folk Dance and Song Society programme, funded by Arts Council England.  Additional funding from the Garfield Weston Foundation.


Arts Council England    

Support Youth Folk

Make a donation to support the National Youth Folk Ensemble


National Youth Folk Ensemble on Instagram

See highlights from the Ensemble's residential courses and performances