The Los Angeles Youth Orchestra, or YOLA, will perform at Super Bowl LVI in Southern California.
A group of 20 YOLA musicians, including high school seniors and a few YOLA alumni, will be part of the ensemble. The group will perform "Lift Every Voice and Sing," conducted by Thomas Wilkins. The group will perform alongside gospel duo, MARY MARY.
"To be a part of this and be here in Inglewood and be a part of the Superbowl is so special on so many levels. I burst with excitement every day. I'm so thrilled that we can be a part of this historic moment. The fact that our young people are performing the Lift Every Voice and Sing anthem which just has such significance in the community and in this country is special," said Camille Delaney-Mcneil, the Director of the Beckmen YOLA center.
Students like Steve Corvera, a high school senior playing the clarinet, are excited too.
"A part of me is still processing it. A part of me still can't believe it. I wake up every morning, look in the mirror and I'm like I'm going to the Super Bowl," said Corvera.
Corvera started participating in YOLA in third grade, and will now be representing South Central in the Super Bowl.
"I grew up in South Central Los Angeles and when people think of South Central Los Angeles, they're not thinking of the greatest things. They think of a lot of stereotypes. They think of a lot of negativity and I feel like to be able to represent my community and say we have a lot of magic going on because what we're doing is magical, is amazing. It's something we get to do and show everybody there's a lot of talent where we're from and I think it's amazing that we get to do it and I just feel like playing at Superbowl is going to be massive," said Corvera.
Corvera said YOLA has had a positive impact on his life.
"I didn't really have a lot of friends growing up. I didn't feel like I was part of a friend group and felt out of place a lot of times. But when I joined YOLA, I felt like I had found my place. To me, it [YOLA] means hope. There's light at the end of the tunnel because I feel like where I came from, and my part of the city, you don't have a lot of people who push you and tell you, you can do it, you can be better, you have people who will always try to bring you down or feel like you'll never be enough. Everytime I'm here [YOLA], I feel like I'm somebody and I can make it," said Corvera.
Corvera is going to CAL State LA to study biology and plans to go to med school.
Rachel Kivi, a senior in high school playing the flute, is looking forward to performing at the Superbowl too.
"I'm really excited because I always watch the Superbowl. That's one of the few sports events that I watch and it will be like a dream come true to experience everything," said Kivi.
Kivi joined YOLA in the fourth grade, and said she hopes to inspire more young people too. She will be going to college to study psychology and wants to become a therapist and music producer.
"A lot of kids that look like me, they don't always know that they have opportunities like this. When you go to the LA Phil, there's not many people that look like me and just knowing you have the opportunity to get there and be in that spot and share music, that's a great thing to see, and it's inspirational," said Kivi.
Moses Aubrey, a YOLA alum, will be performing as well. He was a part of YOLA and then attended Los Angeles City College before transferring to UCLA. He studied music performance and took music education classes. He is now back working with YOLA.
"It's been really great to reconnect and it's been really great not only to pay it forward but to see the development of some of the young students that are here. Performing at the Superbowl will be a dream come true, but it's just going to be a wild and crazy and amazing experience," said Aubrey.
YOLA, inspired by Gustavo Dudamel's own training as a young musician, and the LA Phil and its partners provide free instruments, intensive music training and academic support to more than 1,500 young musicians ages 6 to 18. There are five sites in South Los Angeles, the Rampart District, Westlake/MacArthur Park, East Los Angeles and Inglewood.
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