CONTACT:  Tom Whaley                                  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

310.450.8338, ext. 70338                                   17 MAR 2011



SMMUSD Presents the 62nd annual stairway of the stars


On April 7 and 8, 2011, at 7:00pm, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District will present the 62nd Annual Stairway of the Stars at the Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica.


This event remains one of the most popular annual events in both the cities of Santa Monica and Malibu, as it spotlights the talents of the district's music students, teachers, and music curriculum.


This year, twenty-six bands, orchestras, and choirs will dazzle the audience at the Stairway of the Stars concert. The Stairway concert will focus on the orchestra and the 2011 guest conductor, Pete Anthony.

Pete Anthony, Conductor, Orchestrator, Composer

Pete Anthony is one of the busiest conductors and orchestrators in L.A.’s film industry.  In his 20-plus years in the business, Pete has worked on over 300 feature films with Hollywood’s top composers, including James Newton Howard, Danny Elfman, Marco Beltrami, Marc Shaiman, John Debney, John Powell, Teddy Shapiro, and Christopher Young (The Sixth Sense, Spider-Man, Terminator 3, South Park, Predators, The Devil Wears Prada, Wonder Boys, among others).  Pete brings to his job an intuition for the art of orchestration, an enormous respect for his musician colleagues, and a spirit of collaboration with the composer and filmmakers.  On the podium, Pete is known for his discerning ear and quick wit.

Pete received a B.A. in music composition from Williams College, and then attended the USC Scoring for Motion Pictures & Television Program. For the past ten years, Pete has been a part-time faculty member at USC, teaching orchestration and conducting.  Pete credits composer Daniel Gutwein, orchestrator Albert Harris, and legendary composer/conductor/pianist Artie Kane as his most influential mentors, and is grateful to Dan Foliart for giving him his first job in Hollywood (on the TV series Paradise, 1988-1990).

Pete lives in Malibu with his wife Elizabeth and their three children, all of whom attend Malibu High School.  Not surprisingly, the children are all musicians and are participating in Stairway tonight.


In addition to his demanding conducting career, Pete actively advocates on behalf of musicians through his involvement with the Recording Musicians Association.  A baseball nut, Pete also coaches youth baseball and softball.  He hopes his next career will be as a fishing guide in Montana.


The 2011 Stairway Honor Award will be shared this year by two women who have significantly supported the district’s music and arts programs, Zina Josephs and Jean Sedillos.

Growing up in a family of musicians and teachers, Zina Josephs studied piano with her mother, her sister Ellen (a music major at USC at the time), Salome Arkatov, Alice Ehlers, and David Berfield.  A fourth grade beginning violin class at Ivanhoe Elementary School led to violin lessons with Jane Haffa and John Browning, Sr., and to orchestras at Franklin Avenue Elementary, King Jr. High, Marshall High School, the LAUSD All-City Orchestra, the Idyllwild Arts Festival Orchestra, and the USC Symphony, led by Frances Wilson, Verne S. Martin, Morris Halford, Ray Wurfl, Dan Lewis, and Walter Ducloux.


Zina majored in Music Education at USC, joined Mu Phi Epsilon (professional music fraternity) and MENC (Music Educators National Conference), and taught K-6 general, choral, and instrumental music at San Pedro Street School, a Title I elementary school in downtown Los Angeles, from 1968 to 1986. She also served on the boards of the Los Angeles City Elementary Schools Music Association and the California Music Educators Association/Southern Section. 


After her daughter Emily played in her first Stairway concert in 1996, Zina began attending SMMUSD Board of Education meetings to request reinstatement of the district’s K-5 vocal music program, which had been eliminated in 1983.  In 1997, she and Jean Sedillos were among the first appointees to the Visual and Performing Arts District Advisory Committee (VAPA DAC). This committee meets monthly and prepares semi-annual reports to the Board of Education, with the goal that a comprehensive, sequential arts education program (including Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts) be part of the core curriculum for all K-12 SMMUSD students. (


In 1999, Zina was appointed to the SMMUSD Prop X Oversight Committee, where she tried to make sure that new facilities met the national Opportunity-to-Learn Standards for Arts Education: Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts.  In 2004, she joined the district’s “Arts for All” committee, which wrote a nine-year strategic plan for arts education, adopted unanimously by the Board of Education in 2005.


In 2006, state block grants finally funded the reinstatement of district-wide music instruction for all SMMUSD 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. Compared to 1,050 elementary students receiving music instruction from credentialed music teachers in 2004, this funding allowed 2,487 elementary students to receive instruction from credentialed music teachers in 2007.


Zina has also volunteered with Stairway, PTA and PTA Council, school district parcel tax campaigns, Measure Y+YY, Save Our Schools, Resources for Infant Educarers, Pacific Composers Forum, Santa Monica Arts Commission, Santa Monica Neighborhood Council, and one of the city-recognized neighborhood organizations, Friends of Sunset Park. 


Zina’s husband Bill is also a teacher and a music lover, and they enjoy L.A. Philharmonic concerts at Disney Hall and at the Hollywood Bowl (where they went on their first date in 1968). 


A favorite quote from Shinichi Suzuki, the man who developed the Suzuki Method: “If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart.”


Jean Sedillos began volunteering for SMMUSD in 1977 and has not stopped since. With her two daughters in band, orchestra, and choir, she specialized in supporting the district’s music programs.


During the 1980s, she wrote the Santa Monica Band Parents Association newsletter and worked at the SMBPA’s Bingo games, which raised funds that kept the district’s music program alive and still supplement secondary-level band, choir, and orchestra music budgets today. She served in the trenches at Marching Band tournaments and helped raise funds for Symphony Orchestra trips.


For twelve years, she helped produce Stairway of the Stars, designing posters and programs, handling ticket sales, script writing, and even making flower arrangements one year. Jean’s best Stairway memory is as a participant. Although she is not an SMMUSD alumna, she persuaded guest conductor Richard Wagnon to let her play flute in the alumni/student orchestra that performed at Stairway in 1991. She recalls that the student performers in the ensemble kept the alums from embarrassing themselves.


In 1997 Jean was part of a group of parents and music teachers who realized that the music program needed official representation within the district. They convinced the school board and administrators to form a district advisory committee for fine arts, now called the Visual and Performing Arts DAC. Serving for eleven years, she was a strong voice for restoring elementary music education, strengthening secondary programs, and improving music facilities.


Also in 1997, she became a founding member and leader of Restore Barnum Hall. This group of volunteers raised $1.5 million towards the $8 million restoration/renovation of Samohi’s theater and monitored countless details of the project – from rigging, sound, and lighting systems; acoustical improvements; mural restoration; landscaping; donor recognition panels; all the way to historically accurate paint colors. In one high-tech operation, Restore Barnum Hall members lined up and flushed all the hall’s toilets at the same time to find out whether the noise could be heard in the auditorium (it couldn’t).


Jean approached the school board for several years until the district conducted a use study and hired a theater manager to make sure Barnum Hall is the best resource possible for Samohi and the community. The hall now generates enough revenue to ensure that it will be well cared for.  Along with the Samohi Alumni Association, Jean still helps with some maintenance and improvement projects, such as last summer’s installation of a priceless donated Wurltizer theater organ.


Jean’s work has paid off in her own family: Her daughters have careers in both music and education – Laurie as a public school teacher who has formed and led several children’s choirs and Holly as soprano soloist, private voice teacher, and member of the Los Angeles Master Chorale.


A UCLA graduate and editor/writer by trade, Jean lives in Santa Monica with her husband Jon and their Welsh Corgi, James Macaño, who also sings.


This year, the ensembles that will perform at Stairway of the Stars are the All-District elementary honor orchestra, choir, and band; high school jazz ensemble; and the middle and high school orchestras, choirs, and bands. Some of the musical selections will include: “Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal” (choral), “Folk Dances” (band), selections from movie scores, including Signs, Airbender, and Darfur (orchestera), and “Chameleon” (jazz band).


Tickets sales to the general public can be purchased the night of each performance at the ticket window on a first-come-first-serve basis starting at 5:30pm. The concert will begin at 7:00pm, and the doors will open at 6:00pm. Tickets are $14.00 each. For any other questions, email Tom Whaley, the district’s Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator, at or call 310-450-8338 ext. 70287.





1651 16TH Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404

ph: 310.450.8338; fax: 310.581.1138