Inside the L.A. Phil
Vivian plays for hours at a time, smoothing out unruly notes through afternoons and evenings. A member of the young musicians program known as Youth Orchestra Los Angeles, or YOLA, she embodies the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s most significant attempt to reach younger, more diverse audiences in a county that is about 50% Latino.
The program offers free instruments and years of musical training to mostly underprivileged children, with the aim that it will help them achieve success, and that many may eventually become supporters of classical music.
YOLA was modeled after El Sistema, the Venezuelan program that sponsors more than 100 orchestras and has taught hundreds of thousands of students. The Phil’s leaders launched the program in part to help persuade Gustavo Dudamel to sign on as conductor. Eight years later, it has become central to the L.A. Phil’s community outreach efforts — and a model for similar programs nationwide.