L.A. Times - NFL Super Bowl Week

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L.A. Times – NFL Super Bowl Week

L.A. Times - NFL Super Bowl Week
Kevon Fortune, 16, stands for a portrait with his violin before practice with the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles. The orchestra is rehearsing for the 11th “NFL Honors” show before Super Bowl LVI. (Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)
Author: Jessica Gelt is an arts and culture writer for the Los Angeles Times.

Violinist Kevon Fortune will spend his 17th birthday playing music for football legends. Fortune is a member of the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, which was been selected to perform before — and during — the 11th “NFL Honors” show. The event will be broadcast live Thursday night on ABC as part of the celebrations leading up to Sunday’s Super Bowl game at SoFi Stadium.

“I was like, ‘No way. Am I gonna get to see football players? And they’re picking me?’” Fortune says of the moment he heard he was going to be one of 54 orchestra members to play during the awards show. The event will honor the NFL’s MVP, as well as coach of the year, comeback player of the year and offensive and defensive players of the year, among others. The NFL will be donating $60,000 to the nonprofit youth group, which is one of the nation’s largest primarily African American orchestras.

Charles Dickerson, the orchestra’s founder and conductor, says it’s the first time the awards ceremony will feature an orchestra for its music program. The group will play a pre-show concert featuring the “Star Wars” main theme and “The Star-Spangled Banner,” among other tunes. During the event, the orchestra will also play music by longtime NFL composer David Robidoux.

“Everybody is excited,” says Dickerson. “I wish I could bring all of the young people who are part of our orchestra to participate.”

The orchestra has about 120 members, but only about half the musicians will be able to perform because of the size of the show’s stage. Dickerson, who says he feels bad about that, selected the group’s more senior and advanced players, like Fortune and 17-year-old flutist Leah Marcelle, who has been with the orchestra since she was 12.

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