INGLEWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- The Los Angeles Philharmonic's Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, or YOLA, celebrated the official opening of its new home in Inglewood this week.
"The concert hall is amazing," said Luis Kauregui, a YOLA student. "It's really cool to have just a building that's just for YOLA and not for anybody else."
YOLA serves over 1,200 young musicians across Los Angeles providing free music instruction, instruments, and academic support to students after school.
"Being a part of the program and also just learning about all the instruments of the orchestra, I fell in love with classical music and it's become a huge part of my life," said Moses Aubrey, a YOLA alum.
The Judith and Thomas L. Beckman YOLA Center at Inglewood is the first permanent home of YOLA and it's located right in downtown Inglewood. There are roughly 130 students in grades ranging from first to fifth grade at the site, and about 80% of the students are Inglewood residents.
"It opened a lot of new doors, a lot of new opportunities and things that I never thought I would be able to do," said Mary Carmen Elizalde, a current YOLA student. "And it also brought discipline into my life because I actually had something to look forward to every day after school."
The 25,000-square-foot, $23.5 million project was designed by Frank Gehry, the architect of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Inglewood mayor James Butts said the new addition is one more thing the city can be proud of.
"In 1972, never would I have dreamed that this would be the center for culture in the great city of Inglewood," said Butts.
"I don't think I would be where I'm at if it wasn't for YOLA," said Kauregui. "I've been given a lot of opportunities and I just feel like my life has been forever changed because I was given music."
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LA Phil unveils new Inglewood YOLA concert hall for youth
Of the roughly 130 students at the site, about 80% of them are Inglewood residents.
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