Emmanuel González: between music and public transit 

Emmanuel Gonzalez performed during the Grand Ave Arts/Bunker Hill station dedication. / Photos: Aurelia Ventura.

Emmanuel González just turned 15 years old. On his birthday, October 21, he not only performed with the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (YOLA), but he did so during the official opening of the Grand Ave Arts/Bunker Hill Metro station. “I was very happy because two things that I love came together in one place,” he says happily. 

Emmanuel is both a trumpet player and a public transit enthusiast. 

His family has a car, but he goes to his music classes by transit. Bus Line 18 takes him from his home in Koreatown to La Fayette Park, 3 miles away. He takes the bus to school and enjoys visiting new stations. Emmanuel convinced his family to go to the opening of the Regional Connector last June. He made sure everyone arrived early that day so that they were the first in line to tour the new stations. 

“In July I performed at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and I came by train to Bunker Hill station,” says Emmanuel. He successfully visited Santa Monica after encouraging his family to explore the city by train and now, he is looking to visit the neighborhoods of South Los Angeles along the K line. Even at a young age, he is aware of the advantages of traveling by transit. “There are many places you can visit. I love public transportation because it helps us connect with our communities… Plus, you save money on gas and you don’t waste time in traffic or looking for parking.” 

His mother, Erika Quero, who also uses Metro to get around, says that when Emmanuel was a baby, she would put him in his stroller and take him everywhere on public transportation. “I think he got used to being lulled by the movement of the train and the announcements made through the megaphones always caught his attention. Then he became a fan of watching Thomas [the cartoon with a tank locomotive as its main character]… “My son always had a toy train in his hand.” 

Emmanuel’s love for trains is such that he has become curious about what a control cabin looks like. He hopes to have the opportunity to drive a train one day. “Trains have been a big part of my life and I love them,” says Emmanuel. “I have even thought about being a train operator.” For now, however, he’s focused on music and the classes at YOLA he has been taking for the past three years. 

His dream is to share the stage with the musical director of LA Phil, Gustavo Dudamel.

It all started a while ago when his mother was singing in a church and the choir director told her that he saw that Emmanuel was interested in music. “I see him playing one day at the Los Angeles Philharmonic,” the director said. That comment stuck with his mom, who later began to encourage her son to explore the world of music. 

At first, Emmanuel joined the group Santa Cecilia de LA, created by immigrant parents from Veracruz, Mexico. The founders’ goal was to keep their young children from losing their roots in the United States. “In my town El Nigromante, the people are specialists in wind instruments. My great-grandfather was a clarinetist and I play the sax,” says his mom, Erika. 

After trying several instruments, Emmanuel decided to choose, where he practices for eight hours … and then he practices more at home. His efforts had paid off. He has just been accepted into the YOLA National Institute — an in-depth training program for young musicians. 

Emmanuel now wants to travel the world to learn more about music. One of his biggest dreams is to one day share the stage with the musical director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Gustavo Dudamel. “Meanwhile, I enjoy what I am experiencing now,” he says. “Music transports me, inspires me.” 

His mother remains touched that Emmanuel asked her to tour the Metro stations on his birthday. “That day, he was among what he likes most: music and the Metro. I also heard that Hilda Solís [Metro Board Member and District 1 Supervisor] had her birthday on that same day, and YOLA even played Las Mañanitas… As a mother, I don’t think it could have been a better gift for him.” 

Emmanuel (right) is next to his YOLA classmates, supervisor Hilda Solis (center-left), and Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins (center-right).