THE YOLA SITES
In the fall of 2007, a group of 80 South Los Angeles students would participate in a new program called Youth Orchestra Los Angeles. YOLA for short.
Ten years and tens of thousands of hours of learning later, YOLA has grown to 800 students (ages 6-18) across three sites in South LA, East LA, and the Rampart District.
More than the sum of its parts, YOLA is the product of partnership. 2007. The LA Phil joined forces with the EXPO Center, a City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation Parks facility; Harmony Project; and The Friends of EXPO Center to launch the first YOLA site: YOLA at EXPO in South LA.
2010. The Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) extends YOLA’s reach into the Rampart District with YOLA at HOLA. 2014. The Los Angeles County Office of Education supports the development of a third YOLA site to serve neighborhoods East of downtown LA.
October 3, 2009. In his first concert appearance as the LA Phil’s Music Director, Gustavo Dudamel asked the musicians of YOLA to join him on the Hollywood Bowl stage. Together, they performed Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” for an electrified audience of 18,000. Their performance is remembered as the centerpiece of ¡Bienvenido Gustavo!, an epic, day-long celebration.
Today Dudamel can turn to any of YOLA’s eight ensembles to join him on stage at the Hollywood Bowl, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and venues around the world. With many now-seasoned performers, YOLA students can move fluidly from Dvorˇák and Tchaikovsky to pieces commissioned for them by composer Tania Léon and the International Contemporary Ensemble.
THE NATIONAL STAGE
YOLA was a risk — a serious investment that would require translating a program pioneered in South America for the youth of Los Angeles, and with Gustavo Dudamel at the helm, the world was watching. The New York Times reported, “If successful, the Youth Orchestra LA initiative…may prove to be a pilot project for reinventing music education in this country.”
More than 1,000 music educators and social activists from 28 states and 13 countries have participated in Take a Stand convenings over the past five years, and with the introduction of the National Take a Stand Festival, students have taken centerstage.
2013. The LA Phil was planning its upcoming European tour when an audacious question was asked: what if we brought YOLA along? If the purpose of a tour is to showcase the very best of us, then how could we not?
Over the next four seasons, YOLA tours grew into an annual occurrence: Boston, Japan, London again, and, in 2016, a full YOLA Orchestra of 80 students embarked on a five-city tour of California.
CLASS OF 2015
“You have to have a constantly changing approach to things. Whenever something fails, try another way. They showed us how to beat life, just by showing us how to practice.”
CLASS OF 2016
“The relationship we have with our teachers at YOLA is so important. Our small classes feel more like a family than a class. Our teachers have taught us so much more than music.”
CLASS OF 2018
“I have learned to work with others better and to achieve what I want to achieve.”
CLASS OF 2019
“The YOLA tour was my first time going to Europe or anywhere really. We met our peers from London, and we saw how universal music is. It belongs to everyone. It is who we are.”