We are the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (ICYOLA), the largest majority African American orchestra in America. Founded in 2009, ICYOLA is a California 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that transforms the lives and minds of young people in Inner City Los Angeles through high quality music education. It teaches inner city youth the great music of the world, and provides opportunities for them to perform that music in the most magnificent settings of our community. It prepares its members for advanced study and high caliber success in music and otherwise, and instills the ancillary benefits that music instruction provides: problem solving skills, critical thinking, self-reliance, self-confidence, self-discipline, and the crystallization and pursuit of meaningful purpose.


ICYOLA offers four programs:  the ICYOLA Orchestra Program; the ICYOLA Academy; the Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship; and The South Los Angeles Music Project.  In addition, we are the founding sponsoring organization that operates both the South Side Chicago Youth Orchestra (www.sscyo.org) and the Youth Orchestra of Tsakane, South Africa.

Through the ICYOLA Orchestra Program, we present an annual Concert Season of 8-10 concerts that features both the standard orchestral repertoire and contemporary music that resounds within the community from which ICYOLA emanates and that it serves.  That Concert Season concludes each year with a Season Finale at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Through our ICYOLA Academy, we offer an intense after-school and summer break program to students of Los Angeles Unified School District and community charter schools where we teach youngsters how to play an instrument and the fundamentals of music theory, and a rigorous literacy enhancement program through which we increase our student’s reading, comprehension, listening and speaking skills.

The Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship is a program designed to prepare emerging professionals from historically underrepresented communities to take and win auditions with American Orchestras.  We operate this three-year in-residence program in collaboration with Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, and through generous funding provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The South Los Angeles Music Project is a program to offer basic music appreciation and understanding to young persons living in the South Los Angeles quadrant encompassed by the 10, 710 and 405 Freeways.  We offer this program in collaboration with the County of Los Angeles Probation Department.

Both the South Side Chicago Youth Orchestra and the Youth Orchestra of Tsakane, South Africa are orchestras in development.  They both will ultimately emulate ICYOLA.

ICYOLA is a proud member of the League of American Orchestras, and is a national leader in efforts to assure diversity in the arts.


We play throughout South Los Angeles’ church community and at venues like The Getty Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Staples Center, and the Microsoft Theater.


Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, we have suspended our regular rehearsals and performances until further notice.  However, we are continuing our education program through on-line group lessons and sectional rehearsals made possible through the generous support of the Music Man Foundation.  We will continue offering our programs on-line until the nation’s public health is sufficiently restored to allow us to gather together again.

Please keep your eyes and ears open, and please watch this website to learn about our schedule as the coronavirus subsides.

Play With Us

ICYOLA welcomes young musicians of all skill levels. There are no auditions; no tuition; no competition for seats; advanced players mentor less skilled players; mentor-artists rehearse and perform with us, accelerating the learning process for all; every player performs and plays what they can because being immersed in this way also promotes growth.

Young musicians interested in joining the orchestra are welcome to sit in on a rehearsal to learn more about us. Rehearsals take place on each Sunday at 6:30 p.m. at Knox Presbyterian Church, Los Angeles located at 5840 La Tijera Blvd. Please let us know you will be attending prior to rehearsal time by sending an email to info@icyola.org. Instruments should be brought along if possible.

Feel free to contact us to learn more about how you can become part of our orchestra.