A New Year FIlled with Music And Community


by Carla Juarez, Development Assistant

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HOLA student Audrey Chung was just six years when she picked up an instrument for the first time. Upon enrolling in the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) at HOLA program, she went on to practice violin for a couple of years, but later decided was not the instrument for her and picked up the french horn. She fell in love with the mellow tones of the french horn, it wasn’t too abrasive, nor too deep - it felt just right. Audrey always knew she’d wanted music in her life. “Music has been a constant in my life that I want to keep growing,” she says. Starting 2019 with two big performances, Audrey has taken the opportunities provided through the YOLA at HOLA program to share her music with a wider audience, to travel outside of her realm, and to connect with other musicians over their passion of music.

Audrey commutes to HOLA four days a week for practice lessons and classes. Throughout the years, HOLA has become like a second home to her. With her large french horn case in hand and her school backpack, she makes her way to the HOLA campus to take a small break before beginning class; afterall, she’s had a long bus ride. For her music is an extension of her being, allowing her to express herself. She looks forward to combining her love for music with her interest in science, specifically engineering. Although she has begun her freshman year in high school - and it might be too soon to tell - she explains, she just wants to keep challenging herself.

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When she heard that the Los Angeles Philharmonic (LA Phil) would hold auditions for students in the YOLA program to participate at the 130th Rose Parade, Audrey submitted her audition tape and essay as soon as she could. The days leading up to the event were cold but exhilarating. On the day of, as she waved to the large crowd, memories of watching the parade on TV with her family came up, swelling as pride and joy inside of Audrey.  The opportunity to sit on a float before a large national audience was an unbelievable experience, and the camaraderie between her peers was unforgettable. The select group from HOLA -- which included Alexis Silva, Christian Cruz, Nataly Gonzalez, Rebekah Marquez, Jaime Rodriguez, and Alani Meeks -- grew closer together, enjoying all the buzz and hustle that came from preparing for the performance.


Not too long afterwards, another chance to play with her YOLA peers presented itself. This time a select group of students from all the YOLA sites would be traveling across the country to Princeton University to perform an opening sequence for an evening concert conducted by LA Phil Music Director Gustavo Dudamel, who recently received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Along with one other YOLA at HOLA student, alumnus John Gonzalez (current freshman at the Peabody Conservatory & bassoonist), Audrey arrived a couple of days before the Princeton concert. During this time, students had the opportunity to tour the college campus and  then travel to New York City. In New York City, they visited The Juilliard School and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. YOLA students, who usually practice and perform within their respective sites, had the chance to get to know one another, to collaborate, and to have fun. “[Actually] the days before the events where I got to travel to new places, meet new people, and hang out with some friends,” she reveals, were what made the trip most exciting. The evening concert with Gustavo Dudamel, which was part of the Princeton University Concerts series, one of the oldest concert series in the country, was completely sold-out.  Audrey also had the opportunity to meet the the Founding Music Director of YOLA at HOLA, Christine Witkowski, and her husband Daniel Berkowitz, former YOLA Manager for LA Phil, named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 for Education in 2014.

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Audrey had a busy first week back to school. With so many goals ahead, she is eager to start her french horn lessons, prepare for summer camp auditions, and invest more time in helping younger musicians. She hopes to be more involved in the YOLA at HOLA program as a mentor to the younger students in the HOLA Children’s Orchestra, just like her mentor did when she started to play the french horn.

February 6, 2019