Charles Dickerson is the executive director and conductor of the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles. (File photo)

The Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (ICYOLA) and the Watts-Willowbrook Conservatory (WWC) will collaborate on two music programs for the young people in South Los Angeles.

Founded in 2009, ICYOLA is the nation’s largest primarily African American orchestra. ICYOLA provides opportunities for its musicians to perform eight-to-10 community concerts a year, including annual appearances at Disney Hall.

WWC is a music workshop program established in 2010 by the Scholarship Audition Performance Preparatory Accademy (SAPPA).  The program, which offers free music training on all orchestral string instruments, is open to all youngsters in the South L.A., Watts and Compton areas.

Both ICYOLA and WWC have similar missions.  Their goals are to identify and impact the music education and performance needs of underserved, diverse communities; provide young people with the opportunity to experience the richness of music; and provide young people with the opportunity to develop their talent by working with master musicians.

The organizations also aim to provide young people with an introduction to career opportunities within the field of music; identify volunteers, mentors and other in-kind resources (e.g. meeting space; technology; local and national dissemination networks) to further their work; facilitate connections to key community leaders and resources that will help them further their work; measure the impact of the experiences upon the students, the master artists, and the audience; and encourage each other and the communities they operate, in a manner that will ensure the development of a sustainable legacy.

Billy Mitchell, WWC executive director, said, “It has always been our goal at WWC to offer the young people that we serve an opportunity to perform in an orchestra of the stature of ICYOLA.  We are pleased that the formalization of this new partnership between our organizations solidifies that opportunity.”

Charles Dickerson, ICYOLA executive director, added, “This partnership helps to further the necessary work that our organizations do – building first chair players and first class citizens.  We are thrilled to join with WWC in helping to strengthen the ties within our community through the chords that music provides.”

For more information, call WWC at 626-793-8706 or ICYOLA at 213-788-4260.  Visit the websites of these organizations at and