YOLA Festival at Walt Disney Concert Hall

YOLA Festival at Walt Disney Concert Hall

August 2022–As the new school year kicks off, we want to congratulate seven SOUNDS Academy students who auditioned for, and were accepted into the distinguished YOLA National Festival held over the summer in Los Angeles. YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles) summer program, currently serves more than 1,500 young musicians across five sites, providing them with free instruments, intensive music instruction, academic support, and leadership training. The program is an adaptation of Venezuela’s revolutionary El Sistema music education program. During the summer, the YOLA National Festival is comprised of young musicians from Sistema-inspired programs and programs similarly invested in youth and community development.

There were several highlights during the festival.  SOUNDS Academy students performed at the Walt Disney Concert Hall and were conducted by the world-famous orchestral conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel.  Students also met and were taught by top music instructors from around the country.

Instructor, Tiffany Rice, started at YOLA in 2018.  She is one of the violin coaches.  She is a diversity, equity, and inclusion, (DEI) professional at a middle school in a Boston, Massachusetts.  Despite her full schedule, teaching at YOLA is one of the highlights of her year.  “I take the time out because it is so important for the kids,” said Rice.  “The caliber of kids involved continue to exceed my expectations.”  When asked why she finds YOLA so important Rice reflected that “it is powerful to work with mostly students of color playing at a high level.  There is a collective energy amongst the group. It is a privilege and honor to guide these young students, especially those at the middle school level who are blossoming as young musicians.”  She went on to say, “Visibility and opportunity are important for students to be around students who look like them and teachers who can be their mirrors and windows.”  As a woman of color, she felt this is something that was missing when she was growing up and pursuing music.    

The next YOLA is already scheduled for July 7 to July 16, 2023.  SOUNDS Academy is looking forward to preparing and sending more students next year.  

For ways to contribute towards this endeavor or to support SOUNDS Academy in general, click the button below.  Your donation can help to provide support for students to participate in YOLA and other Music Festivals around the country!

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Zarinah is the Development Manager for SOUNDS Academy and is enthusiastic to bring access to music education to children across Phoenix.