Newly imagined space looks to provide musical development programs to local youth 

Beckmen YOLA Center (BYC) Opening Event photo by Josh White, May 23, 2021

Los Angeles Philharmonic’s reach has recently expanded throughout Inglewood where Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) has turned a former bank into a portal of musical transformation for the city’s adolescence.

This building looks to provide “intensive music training,” coupled with academic support for students between the ages of 5-18. The Judith and Thomas L. Beckman Center is the first space in the YOLA program nestled in the heart of Inglewood; a center dedicated to elite musical training of local youth, channeling the musical excellence of the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

During an exclusive tour, the Los Angeles Sentinel learned the key designs that frame the new center, located at 105 S. La Brea Ave, in Inglewood, California. The vision of the building was captured through the hands of commissioned architect, Frank Gehry and Gehry Partners. What used to be a Security First National Bank, has been reimagined into a beacon of innovation for over 500 students yearning to develop their love for the arts.

Gehry masterminded the reconstruction of the roof, entitled the “light house,” which created a pristine acoustic range. The 18,000-square foot building was made over into a 25,000-squarefoot charter of beginnings. Starting with the touch of transparency and devotion, represented in the glass façade and the extended basement that is now the core of the building, where music pulsates through the halls.

Beckmen YOLA Center (BYC) Opening Event photo by Josh White, May 23, 2021

Los Angeles Philharmonic YOLA ordains the marriage of music education and public service; the first physical remnant of this union was on unveiled on August 1.

The establishment is headed by Music and Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Gustavo Dudamel.  Over 1,000 students will share in his experience of creating music and channeling unified dreams. This type of engagement has proven to elevate the consciousness and quality of life for youth on an international level, and now this program is available locally in Los Angeles. The only requirement is passion to the arts.

Dudamel shared a statement, “As a young child in Venezuela, I joined El Sistema and learned firsthand that music has the power to change people’s lives. Now, the LA Phil is doing just that through YOLA. We know that our engagement with young people in our classes in the Rampart District or East L.A. is every bit as important as our involvement with the audiences in Walt Disney Concert Hall. In fact, one side of what we do is incomplete without the other. That’s why it’s so important to build this permanent home for YOLA, and why I’m so grateful to Frank Gehry for understanding the LA Phil’s hopes and the dreams of our student,” he said.

The $14.5 million project plans to be a cultural resource, pulling directly from the community it serves. Former YOLA students are now collaborating at the new center as mentors and administrative staff.  The diversity found within Inglewood is also reflective in the leadership as well. Camille Delaney-McNeil is Director of the Judith and Thomas L. Beckmen Center and Renae Williams has been named chief Content and Engagement officer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association.


When full dressed for its monthly performances, the building will have retractable seats that can house an audience of 190 persons, with additional seating lining the balcony. The stage envelopes a custom design by Yasuhisa Toyota, founder and president of Nagata Acoustics America, and Frank Gehry. The finishes include a glass roof naturally lighting this new community attraction on La Brea Avenue.

YOLA has seen astronomical results when introducing this method on a global scale, ages 5-18 are invited to see a different perspective of their raw potential and the organization creates a space for them to shape their destiny.

Beckmen YOLA Center (BYC) Opening Event photo by Josh White, May 23, 2021

As an after-school program, local youth should expect an opportunity to widen their confidence. YOLA provides a unique expedition to finding their passion. Free instruments, intensive music training, and academic support are included in the YOLA program.

Before settling in, YOLA kept their hand on the local pulse; working with several different public and private sectors that thrive in L.A. Heavily influenced by their partners, YOLA reached out to community leaders and fastened their ideals with what the public needed from their initiative.

The site has been acknowledged by the City of Inglewood, supported by Mayor James T. Butts and the city council. One of the biggest local advocates for community improvement, Los Angeles Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas encouraged the growth of this dwelling.

During the development of the building, Mayor James T. Butts released a quote, “Today marks another amazing accomplishment for the City of Inglewood. I’d like to welcome the internationally renowned Youth Orchestra Los Angeles—YOLA—to your new home in the heart of downtown Inglewood.

The mayor continued, “World-class cities attract world-class donors and talent. We are especially grateful to Judith and Thomas L. Beckmen for their generosity, and to Gustavo Dudamel and Frank Gehry for bringing their incredible legacies to this great city. And, on behalf of the entire City of Inglewood, we are excited to welcome the LA Phil family as the newest member of our extraordinary community. We look forward to the involvement of Inglewood youth with YOLA.”

Councilmember Ridley-Thomas shared, “For over a decade, YOLA has provided thousands of our underserved youth with a world-class education in music that might otherwise have been out of reach, while also teaching them about citizenship, leadership, and social engagement. I am thrilled that the legendary Frank Gehry has designed a new home for YOLA in Inglewood, where young musicians can prepare to take center stage in our vibrant, creative economy and use the power of the arts to tackle challenging social problems.”

updated by Author 8/5/21