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.

YOLA National Festival

An intensive summer learning program and top-tier ensemble, the YOLA National Festival is an opportunity for students from Sistema-inspired programs and programs similarly invested in youth and community development through music.

Musicians convene each summer in Southern California for a two-week period of learning and performance with world-renowned conductors and artist mentors. Participation is free—travel, lodging, meals, and programming are provided to students at no cost. The 2019 program will feature two ensembles: the Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra.

The festival’s ultimate aim is to create a civically-minded community of young musicians from diverse regions across the country, while developing a model for excellence that will positively shape progressive music education nationwide.


To learn more about eligibility and the application process, read below or email YOLA@laphil.org.

Important Dates

January 16, 2019

Applications open 

March 4, 2019

Applications close

March 8, 2019

Deadline for recommendations from teachers and faculty

April 1, 2019

Admission decisions released

July 16-28, 2019

YOLA National Festival
*July 16 & 28: travel dates

July 26, 2019

Performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall


Eligibility Requirements

Students applying for the Festival Orchestras must meet program and age requirements in order to participate. All students must be enrolled in a music program that is either directly inspired by El Sistema, or in a program similarly invested in youth empowerment. While each El Sistema-inspired or aligned program operates differently, there are basic tenets associated with such programs which this Festival aims to support. All programs must meet at least 5 of the following criteria outlined in our eligibility forms in the above Application Materials.

Symphony Orchestra

Young musicians aged 14-18 may apply to the 100-member Symphony Orchestra. This is a highly competitive ensemble, open to the most advanced players from Sistema-inspired and aligned programs from across the country. Excerpts for the symphony orchestra can be found on our Audition Requirements page. Please note: String applicants age 14 who apply to the Symphony Orchestra will automatically be considered for the Chamber Orchestra.

Chamber Orchestra

String players aged 12-14 are eligible for the Chamber Orchestra. Though students who are 14 years old may apply for the Symphony Orchestra, they may also choose to apply only for the Chamber Orchestra. Students will complete the same application process, with different audition excerpts. Excerpts for the Chamber Orchestra can be found on our Audition Requirements page.

Please note: All applicants should only submit one application, with one set of excerpts.


Check back soon for more information about special performances, rehearsals, and venues!


Los Angeles, CA


Walt Disney Concert Hall


Gustavo Dudamel, Music & Artistic Director, Los Angeles Philharmonic

Jennifer Grim, Flute, University of Miami, Incoming Associate Professor of Flute

Claire Brazeau, Oboe, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Principal Oboe, CSU Long Beach, Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, Oboe Faculty

Mariam Adam, Clarinet, Chineke Orchestra and Chamber Ensemble - Principal Clarinet, International Soloist and Musician

Lecolion Washington, Bassoon, Community Music Center of Boston, Executive Director

Annie Bosler, Horn, UC Irvine - Lecturer, French Horn, El Camino College - Applied Music Instructor

Burt Mason, Trombone, Chamber Orchestra of New York, Principal Trombone, Greenwich Village Orchestra, Principal Trombone, Juilliard Music Advancement Program, Trombone and Brass Lab Faculty

Mariesther Alvarez, Violin, Boston String Academy, Director, Violin Faculty Longy School of Music of Bard College, Teacher Education

Simon Bernardini, Violin, Berliner Philharmoniker

Jennifer Floyd, Violin, YOLA at HOLA Program Director

Benjamin Hoffman, Violin, Redlands Symphony, Principal Second Violin, Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, Violin

Cosima Luther, Violin, YOLA at EXPO, Violin Teaching Artist

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

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

James Woomert, Violin, Atholton High School, Columbia, MD, Director of Orchestras

Amber Archibald-Sešek, Viola, Sesek String Studio, Viola Faculty
Seattle Pacific University, Professor of Viola

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

Troy Stuart, Cello, John Hopkins Peabody Preparatory, Cello & Chamber Music Faculty

Terrance Thornhill, Cello, Paterson Music Project, NJ, Teaching Artist, Northern New Jersey Youth Orchestra, Assistant Conductor

David Connor, Bass, Houston Symphony Orchestra - Community Embedded Musician

Ruben Hernandez, Percussion, San Diego Youth Symphony, OPUS, Teaching Artist

Jeffrey Grogan, Chamber Orchestra Conductor, Oklahoma City University, Director of Orchestral Activities, Oklahoma Youth Orchestras, Artistic Director and Conductor

Soo Han, Chamber Orchestra Conductor, Director of Orchestral Activities, Baldwin Wallace Conservatory

Symphony Orchestra Conductors and additional faculty to be announced!

Top FAQs

For a full list of FAQ’s, please see the FAQ document linked in the above Student Application Materials section. 

What is the YOLA National Festival?

What is the history of YOLA National?