The Inner-city Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles will be finishing off their concert season at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on Sunday, July 17.

The concert will feature various genres of music, from classical to contemporary. The orchestra, which has a range of youth from ages 10 to 30, will perform classical music for the first half while the second half will feature tributes to Luther Vandross, Prince and a selection from Star Wars.

“The show is going to be a lot of fun, it’s very dramatic,” said Karah Innis, 15, who plays violin for the orchestra. “This orchestra is a lot more diverse, musically and culturally, than the orchestras that I’ve been a part of and it’s a lot more family-like.”

The concert will also feature an Afro-Cuban selection along with a tribute to lives lost at the hands of gun violence and police brutality.

“The first year that we performed at the Walt Disney Concert Hall was 2012 and right at the time, the verdict for the Trayvon Martin murder case had just come out,” said Charles Dickerson, the founder, executive director and conductor of the orchestra. “It was particularly significant to our kids because Trayvon was around the same age as them. Trayvon was a young African-American and so are the vast majority of our kids. So every year, we make sure to have a tribute.”

LOC - inner city youth orchestra
LA Inner-ctiy youth orchestra takes the Walt Disney Concert Hall stage. (courtesy photo)

This orchestra started in 2009 when nine students approached Dickerson, who conducted the Southeast Symphony Orchestra along with other professional orchestras. They told him that they wanted to build an orchestra and it has since grown to 112 members.

“It wasn’t something that happened overnight but for us it was a way to show the youth that orchestral music is a way to make a living too and that you don’t have to do the typical things,” said Daquan Robinson, 22, one of the founders, bass players and featured piano soloists in the orchestra.

The Inner-city Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles has been able to perform on many stages, including at the unveiling of the Martin Luther King, Jr. monument in Washington, D.C. The non-profit organization also now works with schools and other teaching programs that give guidance to over 100 more youth.

“I’ve been a part of this orchestra for five years and it has given me some great opportunities,” said Malik Taylor, 18, who plays French horn for the orchestra. “I’ve got to study with one of the best French horn players and play with some world-class musicians.”

The goal of the orchestra is to give young people opportunity as well as an outlet to showcase their talents. They have about eight concerts a year and also have more performances in between the concerts when requested. Many of the members have played in other orchestras, but this one has not only given them a chance to connect with other musicians in their community but also the chance to perform at the top concert hall in Los Angeles.

“Our society still tends to characterize African Americans as people who are less than culturally developed, as people who are violent, as people who have no appreciation for finer things,” said Dickerson. “This orchestra gives us the opportunity to show the absolute best of our young people. It gives a chance for us to demonstrate to ourselves and for our community the high quality and the excellence that our young people have.”

Ticket for the concert range from $30 to $65. They can be purchased at, the Walt Disney Concert Hall or through the orchestra directors.  For more information about tickets or how you can get involved in the orchestra, call (213) 788 – 4260.