Skip to page content

An intensive summer orchestra program with a focus on rigorous artistic development, the YOLA National Festival is for young musicians from Sistema-inspired programs and programs similarly invested in youth and community development through music. 

Musicians will convene in Los Angeles from July 7–July 16, 2023 for 10 days of learning with the festival’s amazing faculty, guest artists, and performances with world-renowned conductors. Participation is free—travel, lodging, meals, and programming are provided to musicians at no cost. The 2023 program will feature two ensembles: the Symphony Orchestra for musicians aged 14-18 and the Chamber Orchestra for musicians aged 12-14.

The festival’s purpose is to connect civically-minded young musicians from diverse regions across the country. Bringing together this community who share a common interest of achieving musical excellence serves as the nexus for the progressive future of music education while modeling the future of orchestral ensembles.


Application Information & Timeline

Your application involves these core components:  

  1. To begin: Create an account or log in to the Acceptd platform via the Apply Now link

  2. Fill out the application which includes parent/guardian information, educational, and musical background

  3. Upload your musical audition (2-3 excerpts and scales) and personal statement videos*

  4. Submit a recommendation from a program manager or teacher

  5. Upload the required consent forms

*Instrument specific excerpts and details about the personal statement are available on our Audition Requirements page.


 All applications are submitted through the Acceptd platform:

Apply Now

Applications due FEB 15, 2023

Once you have created your login on our application platform Acceptd, we suggest you download the application checklist linked in the Application Materials list below, begin practicing your required excerpts, and be sure to get support from a teaching artist or program manager for your musical audition and your personal statement.

Application Timeline

November 15: Applications open 
February 15: Priority application deadline
February 20: Final application deadline
February 22: Recommendation due 
March 20: Notification distributed to applicants 
July 7 – July 16: YOLA National Festival
July 15: YOLA National Festival Performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Eligibility Requirements

Young musicians applying for the YOLA National Festival must meet the program and age requirements in order to participate in the YOLA National Festival. 

Program Requirements

All applicants must be enrolled in an El Sistema-inspired program, or a program that is similarly invested in youth development practices. While each program operates differently, there are basic tenets which this Festival aims to support.

For full details about program eligibility, please download our Eligibility PDF. If you have any questions about whether your music learning program meets eligibility requirements, please email us at

Symphony Orchestra

High school musicians between the ages 14-18 can apply to the Symphony Orchestra. Excerpts for the Symphony Orchestra can be found on our Audition Requirements page. Applicants who are 14 years old and apply to the Symphony Orchestra will automatically be considered for the Chamber Orchestra. 

Chamber Orchestra

Musicians aged 12-14 can apply to the Chamber Orchestra. Musicians who are 14 years old can either apply for the Symphony Orchestra to be considered for both Chamber and Symphony Orchestra or choose to apply only for the Chamber Orchestra. Excerpts for the Chamber Orchestra can be found on our Audition Requirements pageAll applicants should only submit one application, with one set of excerpts.

COVID-19 Policy

The health and safety of our young musicians are our highest priorities, and our decisions will be dependent on guidance from the California Department of Public Health, the LA County Department of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In accordance with the LA Phil’s Vaccination Policy, all musicians, faculty, and staff participating in the YOLA National Festival will be required to be fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated means two weeks have passed since receiving a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Additional COVID-related policies for Summer 2023 will be in alignment with the latest guidance available from public health agencies and the YNF residential campus policies.


Please note, travel and in-person activities for the 2023 YOLA National Festival may be impacted by changes, orders or recommendations set forth by the California Department of Public Health, the LA County Department of Public Health and/or the CDC due to the severity of COVID-19 and/or any surge in cases or new variants. Any changes to the festival schedule will be communicated ahead of time to all participants. The LA Phil reserves all rights to make changes to the festival schedule and programming, and COVID-19 protocols at any time.

YOLA National Festival applicants are required to provide proof of full vaccination via the Accepted application platform at the time of submission (Feb. 15, 2023). While exemptions to vaccination can be accepted, it is very rare for them to be approved and are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. 

YOLA National Festival Staff


Gustavo Dudamel
Music & Artistic Director, Los Angeles Philharmonic





Hilary JonesDiller-Quaile School of Music, Faculty Member; Wichita State University, Assistant Professor; Wichita Symphony Orchestra, Principal Flute


Geoffrey JohnsonWestern Michigan University, Adjunct Oboe Professor

Andrés Mendoza, Weimar University, Music Faculty


Mariam AdamChineke Orchestra and Chamber Ensemble, Principal Clarinet; International Soloist and musician 

Berginald RashAmerican clarinetist, TEDx Speaker, and Co-Founder & Artistic Director of Vivre Musicale, Inc. 


Kai RockeMinnesota Orchestra, Rosemary and David Good Fellow

Mateen MilanJohns Hopkins Peabody Preparatory, Bassoon Faculty Member

French Horn 

Elizabeth LinaresSonarsix Sextet; YOLA at Torres, Teaching Artist 

Corbin CastroNorth Carolina Symphony, French Hornist


Herb SmithRochester Philharmonic


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

Angel SuberoBerklee College of Music, Assistant Professor


Ruben HernandezSan Diego Youth Symphony, OPUS, Teaching Artist

Megumi Smith, California State University, Dominguez Hills, Music faculty; Santa Monica College - Percussion Ensemble Director; YOLA at HOLA, Teaching Artist 



Mariesther AlvarezBoston String Academy, Director, Violin Faculty; Longy School of Music of Bard College, Teacher Education 

Mellasenah Edwards, Baltimore School for the Arts, Music Department Head 

Benjamin HoffmanRedlands Symphony, Principal Second Violin; Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra 

Francisco Diaz, El Sistema USA, Sunstate Orchestral Program

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

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


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

Robin Fay Massie, Musicians of Mercy, Executive Director


Terrence ThornhillPaterson Music Project, NJ, Teaching Artist; Northern New Jersey Youth Orchestra, Assistant Conductor


David Connor, Houston Symphony Orchestra - Community Embedded Musician 

Chantal Incandela, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Press & Communications Manager

More about YOLA National

For a full list of FAQ’s, please see the FAQ document linked in the above Student Application Materials section. If you have any further questions, please email