The initial steps towards realising the long-cherished dream of the late PETRONAS Chairman, Tun Azizan Zainul Abidin, to create a youth orchestra as a ‘stage for young talents’, alongside the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO), were taken on 13 January 2006. Some 500 aspiring musicians from across Malaysia auditioned and 110 – with an average age of 18 years – were selected to form the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (MPYO).
After a period of intensive training under its founding conductor, Kevin Field, and mentors drawn from the ranks of the MPO, the MPYO gave its first public concert in Dewan Filharmonik PETRONAS on 25 August 2007. It has since established a pattern of music camps held three to four times a year, culminating in performances in Kuala Lumpur and beyond. It has toured Peninsula Malaysia (2007 and 2010), Sabah and Sarawak (2008), Singapore (2009 and 2017), Brisbane, Australia (2012), Kedah (2013), Johor Bahru (2014), Hong Kong (2018) and Jakarta (2019).
Auditions are held every year to provide opportunities for talented young Malaysian musicians to join the MPYO and participate in orchestral training and performances, under the guidance of the MPO musicians as tutors. The music repertoire ranges from symphonic repertoire to specially commissioned works by Malaysian composers. In an innovative project, ‘Jazzaar’, in 2010, the orchestra collaborated with leading jazz musicians from the USA, led by Fritz Renold who wrote his Suite Nusantara specially for the project.
In 2013, the orchestra performed in Kedah with renowned local singers Datin Paduka Julie Sudiro and Datuk Yusni Hamid in a keroncong concert attended by the HRH Agong of Malaysia. In 2014, the ensemble collaborated with Yayasan Warisan Johor and Orkestra Tradisional Malaysia in Johor Baru. In 2015, the MPYO was given the honour to perform at the opening of the 128th International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Kuala Lumpur.
In 2017, the MPYO was invited to perform at Majlis Santapan Malam Memuliakan Mesyuarat Majlis Raja-Raja ke-247 at Istana Negara, and Majlis Jamuan Teh Sempena Sambutan Ulang Tahun Hari Keputeraan Rasmi DYMM Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, Sultan Johor.