Voyage LA

Voyage LA
Check Out Charles Dickerson’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Charles Dickerson.

Hi Charles, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today.
At the beginning of the summer of 2009, nine African-American high-school-aged musicians asked me to work with them on orchestral repertoire. I agreed, and by the end of the summer, we had grown to 24, and we presented a concert that was attended by about 150 folks from our community. Encouraged by the success of this performance, the youngsters asked that we continue. And so we did, but only as an informal community group.

But in 2011, we were invited to travel to Washington DC to participate in the unveiling ceremonies for the Memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the National Mall. This prompted us to formalize our group (into a California non-profit corporation), and obtain the necessary qualifications to raise funds so we could take the trip. When we returned from Washington, we created a season of free concerts for our community that concluded with a standing-room-only performance at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in July 2012.

Since then, we have grown to become the largest primarily African-American orchestra in the United States with about 125 members in our ensemble every year. We continue to offer a season of free concerts to our community, and this July we will present our 10th Season Finale Concert at Disney Hall.

In addition, we now serve as the official orchestra for California State University Dominguez Hills. We also offer music education classes for elementary-, middle school-, and high-school youngsters at Boys and Girls Clubs locations around Los Angeles, music instruction programs in collaboration with the County of Los Angeles Probation Department, and a music and literacy enrichment program in LAUSD schools that we operate in collaboration with the Colburn School. We are also the lead partner in the Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship – a program to assist young emerging professional musicians from historically underrepresented communities to prepare for careers in American Orchestras. We have just begun the ICYOLA Drum Corps, a program led by master drummer Ron Tyson and that is generously sponsored by The Guitar Center Foundation.

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