The Inglewood community gathered October 16 to officially open the Judith and Thomas L. Beckman YOLA Center to an enthusiastic crowd.
The program began with “fanfare” a music selection to mark the event which has been three years in the making.
“I am honored, elated, and overjoyed to welcome you to the Beckman YOLA Center in the city of Inglewood,” said Chad Smith, CEO of the LA Phil. “I love looking down the street and the seeing the banners along LaBrea Ave.”
Located at 105 S. La Brea Ave., was previously used as a bank and stem research facility, before it was transformed into the grand music center, designed by the famed Frank Gehry, who donated 100% of his services to the project.
Inglewood Mayor James Butts Jr. provided remarks on how this center will make the City a hub for the cultural arts.
“When I began working in Inglewood, in the police department, this bank was where I deposited my paychecks, never would I have imagined it would now be the cultural hub of Inglewood,” said Butts.
Smith spoke of the mayor’s vision for the space to be in the heart of Inglewood, and less than a block from Market Street.
The City had a goal of enrolling 51% of Inglewood students into the classes, which BYC exceeded.
“There are 130 students in the first class, in this building, and 81% of the incoming class are Inglewood residents,” said Smith.
Once BYC becomes fully operational, 500 children will experience the space.
Smith thanked the many supporters who made the BYC possible.
“Judith and Thomas Beckmen’s gift allowed for the purchase of the building and their commitment to this community is impactful,” said Smith. “Louise and Brad Everton, Margaret Morgan, and Frank Gehry’s contributions will not go unnoticed.”
YOLA currently serves around 1300 students, aged 5 to 18, at four sites throughout Los Angeles county. The completely free after-school program offers its students instruments, intensive training and personal mentorship in the hopes of democratizing music education for students in low-income areas.
The YOLA program commenced in 2007 at the behest of LA Phil Music and Art Director Gustavo Dudamel.
“An orchestra is a community,” said Dudamel. “In the moment of playing together you have to interact in a way to create harmony. It’s not only to be a good musician, it’s to be a better citizen.”
Gehry designed the Edgerton Foundation Performance Hall to exactly match the dimensions and acoustics of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles (also designed by Gehry).
“My simple idea was to lower the floor and raise the ceiling so we got the volume, so when the kids start playing, they feel it, and it gives it more meaning,” said Gehry.
“It was extremely important that this building was for the community of Inglewood,” said LA Phil CEO Chad Smith. “We are so grateful to be here. We’re so grateful to serve the community.”
A sentiment echoed by the mayor.
“We anticipated this opening more than the Super Bowl,” said Butts.
Students interested in joining YOLA can submit an interest form here.