ICYOLA’s Charles Dickerson, aiming for “an inner city youth orchestra in every city where there’s an NFL team”

Posted on: February 23, 2021

In a photo taken before the pandemic, the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles and Charles Dickerson III, the orchestra’s founder and conductor.

“The Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles is the largest Black-majority orchestra in the United States,” reports Scott Simon in Saturday’s (2/20) National Public Radio. Simon interviews founder and conductor Charles Dickerson III and Hanna Innis, a high school senior and cellist in the orchestra. “Dickerson: The Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles began in 2009 when a group of nine African American high school instrumentalists approached me to work with them that summer…. Now we offer four or five programs. We are also now trying to expand. My mantra is that there needs to be an inner city youth orchestra in every city where there’s an NFL team. And we started that process by now creating the South Side Chicago Youth Orchestra…. Simon: I’m struck by a recent report by the League of American Orchestras. Only 1.8% of musicians in professional orchestras are Black…. Dickerson: It’s probably less than that in youth orchestras. I actually serve on the board of League of American Orchestras, and the League recognizes that this is an issue. And so we’re seeking to make those numbers better.” Innis speaks about the impact the orchestra has had on her, and performs Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Variations For Cello.