Conductor Charles Dickerson, center, and the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles. (Courtesy photo)

Black churches continue support of the nation’s largest majority African American orchestra

As the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (ICYOLA) prepares for its opening concert of the 2018-19 season, churchgoers throughout the greater L.A.-area plan to attend to hear the nation’s largest majority African American orchestra.

The ICYOLA concert, set for Sunday, Nov. 4, at 4 p.m., will be held at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, 1977 W. Jefferson Blvd., in Los Angeles.

According to ICYOLA executive director and conductor Charles Dickerson, the orchestra will present three classical pieces – “Symphony No. 101” (“The Clock”) by Franz Joseph Haydn, “Variations on a Theme of Haydn” by Johannes Brahms and ICYOLA violinist Sydney Adedamola performing “Inverno Poterño,” the second movement of “The Four Season of Buenos Aires” by Ástor Piazzolla.

Charles Dickerson is the ICYOLA conductor and executive director. (Courtesy photo)

“In addition, the concert will feature the world premiere performance of a brand new ensemble called the South Central String Quartet and to my knowledge, this is the first time that our community has had a string quartet,” said Dickerson, who has more than 40 years of experience conducting orchestral and choral works throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia.

The quartet consists on violist Bradley Parrimore, cellist Juan-Salvador Carrasco, and violinists Sydney Adedamola and Ayrton Pisco performing the Andante and Alegretto Furioso movements from “String Quartet No. 10” by Dmitri Shostakovich.

“This piece will be dedicated to the memory of Maurice Stallard and Vicki Jones, two African-American shoppers who were killed at the Kroger Store in Jeffersontown, Kentucky on Oct. 24, in an apparent hate crime, and to those who lost their lives in the massacre at the Tree of Life Temple in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October 27,” said Dickerson. The memorial will include the reading of the names of the deceased, a bell-ringing tribute for each victim, and a moment of silence by concert attendees.

As with the majority of ICYOLA events, the faith community is expected to come out in full force to support the nonprofit youth organization, which is really not surprising, Dickerson said.

“The ICYO-L.A. performs 90 percent of our concerts in the African American churches in our community and the vast majority of the people who come to our concerts, come from churches,” explained Dickerson, who added that some ICYOLA programs include participation by members of various local churches.

Last month, the young musicians held their 5th annual Afternoon of Hymns Concert at Holman United Methodist Church in West Adams and the presentation included a choir.

“The choir was made up of people from churches in our community such as Holman, the don lee white singers, Congregational Church of Christian Fellowship, Trinity Baptist, Wilshire United Methodist and other churches,” said Dickerson. Future ICYOLA events include their annual Martin Luther King concert on Jan. 19, at West Angeles Church of God in Christ, and their season ending program at Walt Disney Concert Hall in July.

Since its beginning in 2009, the ICYOLA has grown to more than 100 youth composed of 80 percent Black, 15 percent Latinos and five percent comprised of other ethnicities. There are no auditions or membership fees and young people of all skill levels are welcome to participate by attending the rehearsals on Sundays at 6:30 p.m., at Knox Presbyterian Church, 5840 La Tierja Blvd., in Los Angeles.

In addition to exposing budding musicians to the great orchestral music of the world, Dickerson said that ICYOLA Orchestra Program “enhances their ability to play their instruments, we instill the values of music education like self-discipline, self-concept and the pursuit of meaningful objectives in their lives. We provide them with an opportunity to increase and expand on who they are just by offering this program of an orchestral experience to them.”

The organization also operates the ICYOLA Academy where LAUSD elementary students are taught to play an instrument and the Los Angeles Orchestra Fellowship, which trains emerging professionals to take and win auditions with American orchestras.

The opening concert is free and open to the public. To learn more, visit or call (213) 788-4260.