Charles Dickerson, founder of youth orchestras for young musicians in L.A. and Chicago, on access and inclusivity

Posted on: March 13, 2020

“Charles Dickerson is working to make classical music more inclusive,” reports Dana Alkhouri on ABC TV’s Good Morning America on Friday (3/13). “Dickerson is the founder, executive director and conductor of both the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles and the newly formed South Side of Chicago Youth Orchestra…. This conductor has devoted his over four-decade career to making classical music more inclusive to reach communities of color. Since starting ICYOLA in 2009, it has grown to be the largest primarily African American orchestra in the country, with about 70 to 115 members…. In July 2019, Dickerson expanded, launching another orchestra to serve children in the inner city of Chicago…. The program is free…. It’s funded through nonprofits…. Many of Dickerson’s students come from Kenwood Academy High School, on Chicago’s South Side, and come up through the Serendipity Program Family Center in Chicago, which gets young children started playing instruments early in life…. Based on the success in Los Angeles and so far in Chicago, Dickerson hopes to open more orchestras in other inner cities across the U.S. ‘My mantra has been anywhere there’s an NFL team, there needs to be an inner-city youth orchestra,’ Dickerson said.” Dickerson is a member of the League of American Orchestras’ board of directors.