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 El Sistema-inspired programs and programs similarly invested in youth and community development through music throughout the country.

Musicians will convene in Los Angeles from July 2024 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 2024 program will feature two ensembles: the Symphony Orchestra for musicians aged 14-18 and the Overture Orchestra (formerly known as Chamber Orchestra) for musicians aged 12-14.

The festival’s purpose is to provide the highest caliber of orchestral training, artistry, and musical excellence through a community that serves youth with fewest resources and highest need.

Leadership support for the YOLA National Festival is generously provided by Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, The Eisner Foundation, and an anonymous donor.

We gratefully acknowledge the LA Phil's Learning Supporters who make programs like YOLA possible.

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 with optional principal and auxiliary instrument excerpts) 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

Priority deadline due FEB 23, 2024
Final deadline March 3, 2024



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 17: Applications open 
February 23: Priority application deadline
March 3: Final application deadline
March 8: Recommendation due 
March 27: Notification distributed to applicants 
July 21-30: YOLA National Festival

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

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 Overture  Orchestra. 

Overture Orchestra

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

YOLA National Festival Faculty


Gustavo Dudamel
Music & Artistic Director, Los Angeles Philharmonic



Hilary Jones, Wichita State University, Assistant Professor of Flute; Wichita Symphony Orchestra, Principal Flute

Meghan BennettNew York University, Music Assistant Professor of Flute and Director of Woodwind Studies


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

Stephanie Zelnick, University of Kansas 


Kai Rocke, Oregon Symphony, Bassoonist

Mateen MilanJohns Hopkins Peabody Preparatory, Bassoon Faculty Member

French Horn 

Elizabeth Linares MonteroSonarsix Sextet; YOLA at Torres, Teaching Artist 

Melia Badalian, Long Beach Symphony, Modesto Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, Symphony San Jose, and the Stockton Symphony


Luis Cardenas Casillas, Dallas Brass Chamber Ensemble, Trumpetist

JoAnn Lamolino, Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, Associate Principal/Second Trumpet; University of Hawaii, Lecturer in Trumpet


Burt Mason, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Associate Musician; Chamber Orchestra of New York, Principal Trombone; Broadway’s Camelot, Principal Trombone

John Hart, Keene State College, Assistant Professor of Music



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 Alvarez, Boston String Academy, Director, Violin Faculty

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

Benjamin Hoffman, Brightfeather, Founder; San Diego Symphony, Guest Violinist

Francisco Diaz, Sunstate Orchestral Program-El Sistema, Director

Lauren RauschSan Diego Youth Symphony, Program Manager; San Diego State University Community Music School, Violin Faculty Member 

Tiffany Rice, The Buckingham Browne & Nichols School, Middle School Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Global Education Practitioner


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

Robin Fay Massie, Musicians of Mercy (MOM), Executive Director


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


David Connor, Houston Ballet Orchestra, Assistant Principal Double Bass

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