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YOLA Voices: Ayde, Nathan, and Hera

Watch & Listen

Inspired by Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel’s own training as a young musician in Venezuela, YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles) is the LA Phil’s education program that creates social change through music.

Since its establishment in 2007, YOLA has provided free instruments, academic support, leadership development, and intensive music training to students ages 5–18. And over the years, the program has only gotten bigger and better, now serving close to 1,700 young musicians and their families at five YOLA sites across Los Angeles County and beyond.

With each student that passes through the YOLA program, they enter with a unique story and graduate with the experience, confidence, and preparation for their next chapter—whether that be on the stage, in the classroom, or elsewhere.

Check out these stories from current and former YOLA musicians and see what the life-changing power of music can do for tomorrow’s leaders.

Meet Ayde, Nathan, and Hera.

Wisdom from Ayde

Sixteen-year-old Ayde is a YOLA student with a lot on her mind and even more on her plate. On top of schoolwork and family responsibilities at home, Ayde plays the flute and oboe in the LA Phil’s music education program.

Ayde says it hasn’t been easy being a kid while trying to make wise, mature decisions for her future, but she’s found a safe space in YOLA to dream big, express herself, and make progress toward her long-term goals.

Nathan and the Tuba

For Nathan, a Cal State Long Beach student and tuba player, YOLA is “the place that [he] learned the most, for both music and being a person.” As one of the nearly 1,700 young people who have passed through the LA Phil’s music education program, Nathan is becoming the best version of himself through the intensive music instruction, academic support, and invaluable performance opportunities provided by YOLA.

Hear Nathan’s story about how YOLA helped build his confidence, improve his tuba skills, and prepare for the bright future ahead of him.

Hera’s Journey

When Hera began her journey with YOLA as a young violinist, she knew that she was on the right path to finding her truth. Coming from a family where she initially felt like a follower, Hera says being a part of the LA Phil’s music education program has helped shape her into the leader she was always meant to be.

As a student at the EXPO Center, one of YOLA’s five learning sites across Los Angeles County, Hera performed at the Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show with Coldplay, where she felt the thrill and excitement of what a music-filled life and career could bring. “This could be you for the rest of your life!” she told herself.

Now an alum, Hera is paying it forward, serving as a violin teaching artist and mentor for current YOLA students while preparing for her graduate school auditions.