CONTACT:  Tom Whaley                            FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

310.450.8338, ext. 287                                                11 FEB 2008



SMMUSD Stairway of the Stars Performance - March 6th and 7th


On March 6th and 7th, 2008 at 7:30 pm, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District will present the 59th Annual “Stairway of the Stars” at the Civic auditorium in Santa Monica.  This event remains one of the most popular annual events in the city, as it spotlights the talents of the district's music students, teachers, and music curriculum. One of the highlights of this year’s performance will be the addition of an Elementary Honor Band, which developed as a result of the district’s expansion of the music program last year.


Each year the band, orchestra, or choir is featured at the Stairway of the Stars concert; this year will feature the orchestra. The guest conductor and Stairway award recipient will be Mr. Christopher J. Schwabe. Christopher J. Schwabe is presently a teacher, conductor, and director of orchestras at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, California, where there are three orchestra ensembles, including the string orchestra, chamber ensemble, and symphony orchestra.  Mr. Schwabe received his Bachelor of Music Education from Indiana University and a Master of Arts Degree from Ball State University.  He is enjoying his forty-fifth year of teaching instrumental music in the public schools.  After teaching in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District at Lincoln Middle School and Santa Monica High School for 29 years, he retired in June 2002.  Two months later, he was coaxed out of retirement to begin a new orchestra program at Mira Costa High School in the Manhattan Beach Unified School District.  In six years, the program has grown from one string class of eighteen students to three orchestra classes, including a full symphony orchestra of eighty students.  The orchestral program has already earned a reputation as one of the finest throughout the state of California.  In April of 2006, the Mira Costa High School Symphony Orchestra was featured alone in concert at New York’s prestigious Carnegie Hall.  This performance marked Mr. Schwabe’s second appearance in Carnegie Hall, having conducted the Santa Monica High School Symphony Orchestra on the same stage in March of 2002.  Only two high school orchestras from California have been invited to perform in Carnegie Hall, and both have been under Mr. Schwabe’s baton.


In 2000, the California Music Educators Association honored him as the Outstanding Music Educator of the Year.  He has also taught at Santa Monica College, the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts, and in the School of Performing Arts Early Development String Program at USC, where he received the Outstanding Teacher Award for his extraordinary service to string pedagogy.  He continues to conduct numerous honor groups throughout California and is in demand as a clinician at workshops, conferences, and conventions throughout the state.  He takes great pride in the number of students who have graduated from his music programs and become members of professional orchestras as well as outstanding music educators in public schools and universities throughout the country. The Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator and entire music staff will be presenting Mr. Schwabe with the Stairway award for his forty-five years (29 years in SMMUSD) of service, dedication, and excellence in the field of music education.


This year the ensembles that will perform in the “Stairway of the Stars” concert are the All-District Elementary Honor Orchestra, Choir and Band, High School Jazz Ensemble, Middle and High School, bands, choirs and the orchestras will be spotlighted and featured.  The Elementary Honor Band is new this year for elementary.  Some of the musical selections this year will be: “William Tell Overture”, “Marche Slave,” and “Some Skunk Funk”.


Advertising space is available in the Stairway program and more information is available at: Ticket cost is $10.00 and sales to the general public begin on Friday, February 29th.  Tickets can be purchased at the Professional Development and Learning Center, (PDLC), Formerly Washington West on 2802 Fourth Street, Santa Monica, or call 310-399-5865 ext. 538.





1651 16TH Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404

ph: 310.450.8338; fax: 310.581.1138