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The Judith and Thomas L. Beckmen YOLA Center, the new home for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s YOLA program, officially opened its doors on Oct. 16.
An official ribbon cutting ceremony, complete with musical performances from YOLA and LA Phil musicians, kicked off the opening. Following the ceremony, YOLA’s Percussion Ensemble performed in the Edgerton Foundation Performance Hall as guests toured the building.
The BYC is the first permanent home of YOLA, and will help provide free music education to communities throughout Los Angeles County.
Designed to build a sense of belonging and bridge communities and cultures, the BYC supports all YOLA programs located in South L.A., the Rampart District, Westlake/MacArthur Park and East L.A., as well as the YOLA National Symposium and Festival.
The ribbon cutting kicked off a yearlong celebration of special events and activaties within the Inglewood community, laying the groundwork for the BYC to serve as a creative laboratory, learning hub, community center and a lively, welcoming place for all.
“This moment has been years in the making, and to be able to celebrate in person with Frank, Gustavo, Mayor [James T.] Butts, Judith and Thomas Beckmen, our students, and the city of Inglewood is incredibly special,” said Chad Smith, David C. Bohnett Chief Executive Officer Chair of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. “We could not have gotten here without the generosity of a community that embraces arts education and understands its value. We look forward to welcoming the next generation of musicians, along with all our Inglewood neighbors, to the center in the years to come.”
Now the fifth YOLA site, the Beckmen YOLA Center represents a milestone in the evolution of the 15-year-old YOLA program, which serves 1,500 K-12 students. The first class of YOLA at Inglewood began classes in September, and consists of 126 students spanning grades 1-5, more than 80% of whom reside in Inglewood. The center also provides the program with its first performance space and is equipped to support a variety of distance learning and professional development opportunities.
Designed by architect Frank Gehry, the core of the BYC is the Edgerton Foundation Performance Hall, a performance space designed specifically to be the same dimensions and caliber of Walt Disney Concert Hall’s stage, providing YOLA students the opportunity to experience professional level acoustics.
The Edgerton Foundation Performance Hall is designed to be able to convert into two smaller multi-purpose rehearsal spaces. In performance mode, retractable seating risers can be deployed to provide theater-style seating for 190 people, with an additional 70 seats on a balcony.
“We knew that this would be an unparalleled building for a youth orchestra, being designed by Frank Gehry, that would inspire students to embrace and explore their musical talents,” LA Phil Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel said. “To be here and perform with students today, to officially open the doors of the BYC, is what brings the building to life. Being here with our community and seeing how music can transform a physical space into a home, is why I am a passionate supporter of YOLA and helping to develop the next generation of musicians.”
A variety of spaces are provided in the building for orchestra, sectional, chamber and individual practice. The choir room, an ensemble room and a small practice studio are designed with recording capabilities to support YOLA students as they audition for high school and college.
The building also houses offices and an open lounge space for parents and family members to use during YOLA hours.
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