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L.A. Philharmonic to hold instrument drive, host symposium on El Sistema-inspired programs

May 5, 2010 |  5:55 am

Violins-yola Wondering what to do with that old violin stored in the bedroom closet? Or the clarinet left over from your daughter's middle-school music class?

The Los Angeles Philharmonic is seeking donated instruments to help support the expansion of Youth Orchestra LA, its initiative to establish ensembles in under-served communities.

Donations will be accepted Thursday through Saturday at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Orchestral instruments of all sizes as well as metronomes, music stands and tuners will be collected at a table in the Grand Avenue lobby, starting two hours before each day's Philharmonic concert. Instruments should be in working condition, although certain repairs can be made.

The YOLA initiative was launched in 2007 and its first ensemble, the YOLA EXPO Center Youth Orchestra, began to rehearse a year later at the EXPO Center near the Coliseum. Membership in the orchestra -- which was created by a partnership among the Philharmonic, the city Department of Recreation and Parks and the Harmony Project -- has swelled to more than 200 kids.

This fall, the Phil plans to expand to a second site by launching an intensive orchestral education program for more than 100 first- and fourth-graders at Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), a community center in Lafayette Park.

YOLA is one of many programs inspired by El Sistema, the Venezuelan music education movement that has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of children. Philharmonic Music Director Gustavo Dudamel -- a product of El Sistema -- maintains a close relationship with YOLA and led the EXPO Center orchestra in part of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony during his debut concert at the Hollywood Bowl last fall.

Beginning Thursday, the Phil will host a three-day symposium that offers a global perspective on El Sistema-inspired programs in the United States. "Composing Change: YOLA and the El Sistema Movement" will include round-table discussions, an EXPO Center orchestra rehearsal -- conducted by Dudamel -- at Disney Hall and a conversation between Dudamel and Deborah Borda, the L.A. Philharmonic Assn. president and chief executive.

The symposium will be presented by the Philharmonic, El Sistema USA and the League of American Orchestras.

--Karen Wada

Photo: Musicians in a rehearsal for the YOLA EXPO Center Youth Orchestra. Credit: Mathew Imaging


An orchestra by open invitation

Pride, joy and playing with Gustavo Dudamel