Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles Kicks off Black History Month at the Loma Linda University Church
30 January 2023 |
On February 4, 2023, Loma Linda University Church will kick off Black History Month featuring a worship service with music by the largest majority Black orchestra in America – the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (ICYOLA).
Started in 2009, the Inner City Youth Orchestra holds weekly rehearsals to help young musicians from underrepresented backgrounds take center stage. With less than 5% of orchestras in the U.S. that are made up of Black or Latino members, ICYOLA is aiming to change the face of orchestral music, according to a video by CBS News.
Charles (Chuck) Dickerson is the executive director and conductor of the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles. Over his 40-plus years of conducting, he has directed performances of many of the greatest orchestral and choral works throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. His best-known compositional work is “I Have A Dream,” a choral and orchestral setting of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. landmark speech. The work was performed for the unveiling ceremonies of the King Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles as Los Angeles County’s official celebration of the 50th anniversary of the speech, according to his profile at California State University, Dominguez Hills.
Dickerson aims to instill the five values of “accomplishment, pride, camaraderie, confidence, and respect” in every musician who joins his group. Among their many performances, ICYOLA has performed on the stage of the Walt Disney Concert Hall for season-ending concerts during the past ten years, giving the musicians great exposure and experience.
“I think that spaces like these are very important, because it uplifts and gives confidence to minority students,” says Hannah Innis, a cellist for ICYOLA, interviewed by CBS.
Dickerson is not only a noted composer and conductor, but serves as an adjunct professor for La Sierra University’s Black Studies Curriculum, bringing experience from former careers in government, law, and politics. He is an alumnus of La Sierra and studied as a music major in 1970-71 when the school was part of Loma Linda University, then earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Howard University. He also holds a Juris Doctor from American University in Washington, D.C., and a Master of Music from California State University, Los Angeles, in conducting and African American music.
Dickerson is a graduate of the former Los Angeles Union Seventh-day Academy School and Glendale Academy, and he later served as board chair for Glendale. He has also served as counsel to the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
“What we do in music is, we teach excellence. When you learn those skills in music, those skills are transferrable into other aspects of your life,” says Dickerson. “You cannot compare the pride that resounds, in the hearts of those kids, but also in their families and everybody they touch – just because they’ve played on that stage.”
The February 4th Loma Linda University Church service can be watched online here.