Before the coin flip and the national anthem at Sunday’s Super Bowl LVI, the young musicians of YOLA (the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Youth Orchestra Los Angeles) will participate in the pregame festivities.
Members of the youth orchestra will accompany the contemporary gospel duo Mary Mary (the multi-Grammy Award-winning sister duo of Erica and Tina Campbell) in a rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the hymn written in 1900 by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson, with music by his brother, John Rosamund Johnson. The performance will be conducted by Thomas Wilkins, principal conductor of the Philharmonic’s Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.
Inspired by LA Phil Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel’s training as a young musician with El Sistema in his native Venezuela, YOLA provides free instruments, intensive music instruction, and academic support to over 1,500 young musicians ages 6–18 at five campuses across the Los Angeles area.
On Oct. 16, 2021, YOLA opened its first fully-owned facility in downtown Inglewood (home of SoFi Stadium, the site of this year’s Super Bowl). The transformation and repurposing of the former Security Pacific building was overseen by the architectural firm of Frank Gehry Associates.
The inclusion of YOLA in the pre-game ceremonies for the Super Bowl, said Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr., reflects the presence of YOLA as a cultural member of the community and a critical addition to the branding of the city.