In Thursday’s (12/29) Time magazine, Jens Erik Gould reports, “Gangs are such a part of life in southeast Los Angeles that Daniel Gonzalez once thought that he was destined to be wrapped up in it sooner or later.…  But something rescued him from that nightmare: classical music. At age 12, Daniel began taking classes at the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, a program run by the L.A. Philharmonic, the non-profit group Harmony Project and the city’s EXPO Center. Now, he’s a French horn player who has performed on stage at the Hollywood Bowl and the Walt Disney Concert Hall with the likes of Stevie Wonder.… The initiative—called YOLA for short—is inspired by the Venezuelan program known as El Sistema, which has taught classical music to hundreds of thousands of under-privileged children for more than three decades. El Sistema’s most famous product is L.A. Phil director Gustavo Dudamel himself…. The program now offers instruction as many as four days a week to some 500 under-privileged kids in underserved areas of the city—most of them Latino or African American. Children who want to learn to play classical music usually have to pay a lot of money for lessons and instruments; YOLA provides both for free.”

Posted January 3, 2012