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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.

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YOLA National Festival Orchestras

An intensive orchestral training program, the YOLA National Festival is open to students aged 12-18 from Sistema-inspired programs and similar initiatives from across the country that are invested in youth and community development through music education. This year’s program will feature two ensembles: the Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra.

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YOLA National Symposium

The YOLA National Symposium brings together educators, administrators, advocates, and other key stakeholders invested in progressive music education and youth development to advance the field through collective learning and dialogue.

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YOLA National Institute

Open to select musicians of the 2019 YOLA National Symphony Orchestra, the YOLA National Institute (YNI) offers in-depth training and support to young musicians interested in pursuing a career in music. Program activities include convenings throughout the 2019/20 academic year, mentorship, private instruction, chamber music coaching, travel opportunities, and financial support for college applications.

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What is the history of YOLA National?  

YOLA National is the next phase in the evolution of the LA Phil’s investment in progressive music education under the leadership of Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, who is a product and champion of the El Sistema youth orchestra movement.   

The LA Phil introduced the Sistema-inspired YOLA program in 2007. The program’s influence grew rapidly, and in 2012, the Take a Stand initiative—a partnership between the LA Phil and Longy School of Music of Bard College—was introduced to promote social change through music on a national stage. The initiative resulted in an annual convening of Sistema-inspired music educators, a Masters of Arts in Teaching degree program, and in 2015, the creation of the student-centered National Take a Stand Festival.   

In 2018 the LA Phil introduced YOLA National in order to unify and expand upon these activities, with the exception of the Masters of Arts in Teaching degree program, which continues to be administered by the Longy School of Music of Bard College, now in partnership with Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) and Street Symphony. Under the “YOLA National” umbrella, the LA Phil seeks to be a nimble and expert resource for the field, continuing to host annual convenings for educators and students, but also introducing new programs and entering into new partnerships that respond to the changing needs of the field.