Each year, young musicians from across the country convene in Los Angeles for the YOLA National Festival and again for the YOLA National Institute. Hosted by Maestro Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic, YOLA is a highly competitive, audition-based summer intensive for members of el-Sistema programs in the United States. In 2021, ESYO musician Jay-Era auditioned for YOLA and was one of 100 young musicians accepted into the 2021 YOLA Symphony Orchestra. "The audition process to YOLA is very, very competitive since you are going against thousands of people from around the country...so many people auditioned that they had to push back the audition results," said Jay-Era.
In addition to auditioning for the YOLA Symphony Orchestra, Jay-Era, who began her pursuit towards musical excellence in ESYO CHIME and now performs with ESYO's Repertory Orchestra and Youth Jazz Orchestra, was one of thirty young musicians from the Symphony Orchestra selected to participate in the YOLA National Institute, an in-depth training program for musicians interested in pursuing a career in the field of music.
In October, Jay-Era boarded a plane in Albany and endured a 7-hour flight across the country to attend the 2021 YOLA National Symposium. When she arrived at LAX, she got to see her friends who flew in from New York City, Florida, Texas, Maryland, and Georgia. "We are like a family," said Jay-Era. "We all made bonds and amazing memories with each other, which will last forever." While in town, Jay-Era got to explore downtown L.A. and the Universal CityWalk, a three-block entertainment, dining, and shopping promenade near West Hollywood. After a trip to the beach, Jay-Era and her friends went to see Gustavo Dudamel conduct the L.A. Philharmonic at the premiere of Trumpet Fantasy by Alt-rock bassist Steve Mackey. After the concert, she got the chance to meet the composer and took pictures with members of the L.A. Philharmonic.
Like ESYO, YOLA is "serious fun." Jay-Era and the 29 other members of the YOLA National Institute were there to discuss the Symposiums 2021 theme, Change. They were the only youth panelists at the conference and played an important role in the discussions. Surrounded by top educators from across the country, "we talked about what type of changes we want to see in the field of music and for the future of youth," said Jay-Era.
Jay-Era's hard work and talent earned her a spot on the national stage. In the days and months leading up to her virtual audition, Teaching Artists at ESYO CHIME helped her prepare for her audition and gave her additional private lessons. Jay-Era's recent experiences with auditioning for ESYO's ensembles taught her what to expect during an audition while helping her set high personal standards for excellence.
Experiences like the YOLA National Symphony Orchestra, National Institute, and Symposium are critical for serious, young musicians like Jay-Era. "YOLA has deepened my love of music and my passion for music. It showed me that I should be more confident because this was a high achievement! YOLA also showed me that I really enjoy performing with others who have the same passion for music." YOLA also gives musicians like Jay-Era the chance to meet and collaborate with successful musicians. Earlier this year at the YOLA National Institute , Jay-Era met and interviewed celebrities like Emmy-award-winning composer Kris Bowers, two-time GRAMMY Award-winning composer Derrick Hodges, and American rap icon Lonnie Rashid Lynn, aka Common.