Empowering Youth, Building Community

YOLA National programs bring together those who believe that music education has a powerful role to play in youth and community development. Designed to respond to the changing needs of the field, YOLA National offers an ever-growing number of opportunities for young musicians, teaching artists, program administrators, and other stakeholders to learn from and create community with one another.

Through this work, the LA Phil aims to empower young people from populations that have been historically excluded from intensive music training and foster a dialogue among practitioners that will help shape the future of the field.

YOLA National Festival

An intensive summer learning program and top-tier ensemble, the YOLA National Festival is an opportunity for students from Sistema-inspired programs and programs similarly invested in youth and community development through music.

Musicians convene each summer in Southern California for a two-week period of learning and performance with world-renowned conductors and artist mentors. Participation is free—travel, lodging, meals, and programming are provided to students at no cost. The 2019 program will feature two ensembles: the Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra.

The festival’s ultimate aim is to create a civically-minded community of young musicians from diverse regions across the country, while developing a model for excellence that will positively shape progressive music education nationwide.


To learn more about eligibility and the application process, read below or email YOLA@laphil.org.




YOLA National Institute

Open to select musicians from the 2019 YOLA National Symphony Orchestra, the YOLA National Institute (YNI) offers in-depth training to young musicians interested in pursuing a career in field of music. The Institute’s inaugural class of fellows will perform with the LA Phil at the Hollywood Bowl in a performance led by Gustavo Dudamel and join the LA Phil's 2019 Tour to Edinburgh, Scotland from July 31-August 5, 2019, immediately following the completion of the YOLA National Festival.

Learn More

Important Dates

January 16, 2019

Applications open 

Deadline Extended to March 8, 2019

Applications close

March 8, 2019

Deadline for recommendations from teachers and faculty

April 1, 2019

Admission decisions released

July 16-28, 2019

YOLA National Festival
*July 16 & 28: travel dates

July 26, 2019

Performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall


Eligibility Requirements

Students applying for the Festival Orchestras must meet program and age requirements in order to participate. All students must be enrolled in a music program that is either directly inspired by El Sistema, or in a program similarly invested in youth empowerment. While each El Sistema-inspired or aligned program operates differently, there are basic tenets associated with such programs which this Festival aims to support. All programs must meet at least 5 of the following criteria outlined in our eligibility forms in the above Application Materials.

Symphony Orchestra

Young musicians aged 14-18 may apply to the 100-member Symphony Orchestra. This is a highly competitive ensemble, open to the most advanced players from Sistema-inspired and aligned programs from across the country. Excerpts for the symphony orchestra can be found on ourAudition Requirements page. Please note: String applicants age 14 who apply to the Symphony Orchestra will automatically be considered for the Chamber Orchestra.

Chamber Orchestra

String players aged 12-14 are eligible for the Chamber Orchestra. Though students who are 14 years old may apply for the Symphony Orchestra, they may also choose to apply only for the Chamber Orchestra. Students will complete the same application process, with different audition excerpts. Excerpts for the Chamber Orchestra can be found on ourAudition Requirements page.

Please note: All applicants should only submit one application, with one set of excerpts.


Check back soon for more information about special performances, rehearsals, and venues!


Los Angeles, CA


Walt Disney Concert Hall


Gustavo Dudamel  Music & Artistic Director, Los Angeles Philharmonic

Jennifer Grim  Flute, University of Miami, Incoming Associate Professor of Flute

Claire Brazeau  Oboe, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Principal Oboe, CSU Long Beach, Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, Oboe Faculty

Mariam Adam  Clarinet, Chineke Orchestra and Chamber Ensemble - Principal Clarinet, International Soloist and Musician

Lecolion Washington  Bassoon, Community Music Center of Boston, Executive Director

Annie Bosler  Horn, Los Angeles Freelance Musician, Cal State Northridge and Pasadena City College, Professor of Horn, Author of College Prep for Musicians

Burt Mason  Metropolitan Opera, Associate Musician, Chamber Orchestra of New York, Principal Trombone, Juilliard Music Advancement Program, Trombone and Low Brass

Mariesther Alvarez  Violin, Boston String Academy, Director, Longy School of Music of Bard College, Faculty

Simon Bernardini  Violin, Berliner Philharmoniker

Benjamin Hoffman Violin, Redlands Symphony, Principal Second Violin, Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, Violin

Cosima Luther  Violin, YOLA at EXPO, Violin Teaching Artist

Lauren Rausch  Violin, John Hopkins Peabody Preparatory, Director, Young People's String Program & Coordinator, Tuned-In Program

Tiffany Rice  Violin, The Windsor School, Boston, MA, Director of Performing Arts and Music Faculty

James Woomert  Violin, Atholton High School, Columbia, MD, Director of Orchestras, & Howard County Gifted and Talented Youth Orchestra, Co-Director

Amber Archibald-Sešek  Viola, Sesek String Studio, Viola Faculty Seattle Pacific University, Professor of Viola

Chris Jenkins  Viola, Oberlin Conservatory, Associate Dean and Liason to the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Troy Stuart  Cello, John Hopkins Peabody Preparatory, Cello & Chamber Music Faculty

Terrance Thornhill Cello, Paterson Music Project, NJ, Teaching Artist, Northern New Jersey Youth Orchestra, Assistant Conductor

David Connor  Bass, Houston Symphony Orchestra - Community Embedded Musician

Ruben Hernandez Percussion, San Diego Youth Symphony, OPUS, Teaching Artist

Jeffrey Grogan  Chamber Orchestra Conductor, Oklahoma City University, Director of Orchestral Activities, Oklahoma Youth Orchestras, Artistic Director and Conductor

Soo Han  Chamber Orchestra Conductor, Director of Orchestral Activities, Baldwin Wallace Conservatory

Symphony Orchestra Conductors and additional faculty to be announced!

Top FAQs

For a full list of FAQ’s, please see the FAQ document linked in the above Student Application Materials section. 

What is the YOLA National Festival?

What is the history of YOLA National?