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Young Americans Using Their Music to Send a Message

The Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles gives the city’s young musicians a chance to show off their skills. The group makes a special effort to reach minorities in neighborhoods with a history of crime and violence.

The Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles plays popular music, classical works and traditional American pieces. Most members of the group are African American or Hispanic. Miles David Hall is a violinist.

“Having this ability and defying stereotypes, I think is something, that's something that I love to be a part of.”

The orchestra has performed at the Disney Concert Hall and at major events in Los Angeles and in Washington, D.C. Violinist Amber Daughtry says she and the others share their love of music.

“Well, oo me, it feels like I'm just soaring, and it has me wrapped up in it.”

Bass player Daquan Robinson says the orchestra has changed in the six years since it started.

“To see how it had grown from nine to 80-plus was like mind-blowing.”

Charles Dickerson has served as the orchestra’s conductor for the past six years. He says membership is open to anyone between the ages of 10 to 25. But all members must have a basic understanding of their instrument. The orchestra, he says, is one way to get the world to listen.

“Just like any kids in any other community, who are striving to make a statement that they are important, too, and that their community is important.”

A men's chorus has been training with the orchestra for a special performance. The show will note the deaths of young black men as a result of police action in separate incidents across the country.

Orchestra members say they hope the music in their performances can also send a message.

I’m Bob Doughty.

VOA correspondent Mike O’Sullivan reported on this story. George Grow adapted his story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.


Words in This Story

classical – adj. relating to a tradition form of European music that is considered more serious than other kinds of music

violinist – n. someone who plays a violin (an instrument that has found strings and that the player usually holds under the chin)

stereotypes – n. an often unfair and untrue belief that people have about others

soaring – v. rising upward quickly

mind-blowing – adj. extremely exciting

conductor – n. the person who directs a group of musicians

basic – adj. relating to the most important part of something

striving – v. working hard for something

chorus – n. a large group of singers

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