Over 25 bands, orchestras and choirs comprised of students in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District will be featured March 22 and 23 during the 63rd annual Stairway of the Stars concert at the Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica.

The event, one of the most popular in Santa Monica and Malibu, spotlights the talents of the school district’s music students, teachers and curriculum. This year’s concert will focus on the band program, with Tom Cole serving as the guest conductor. Overall, approximately 1,000 students will be involved in the event.

Cole has been a music educator in the Poway Unified School District since 1975 and just retired from Rancho Bernardo High School in June of 2010. Prior to his appointment at Rancho Bernardo High School, he taught for 15 years at Mt. Carmel High School. Cole received the Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association and in 2007 was honored with the California Band Directors Association Lifetime Achievement award.

Each year, the school district’s 23 music teachers nominate and vote for the Stairway Honor Award recipient. The award goes to a former student, teacher or someone who has achieved a level of success in the arts or who has contributed to the advancement of music and arts education in the SMMUSD.

This year the award goes to Chandra Narain, who spent much of her 23 years with the district supporting its Visual and Performing Arts Department. She currently works in Education Services as an administrative assistance specializing in the Visual and Performing Arts Department.

“Everyone who has had the pleasure of knowing Chandra will agree that she is one of the hardest working, kindest, most generous souls they have ever met,” read a press release issued by the school district Tuesday. “Chandra serves hundreds, if not thousands, of people each year with a personal touch that somehow makes everyone feel as if his or her needs are a top priority.”

Some of the musical selections for this year’s concert will include: “Shenandoah,” “Symphonic Dances, Mvt. 5, Belly Dance,” “Capriccio Espagnal,” and “Sing, Sang, Sung.”

Tickets go on sale March 22 at 5:30 p.m. at the Civic Center Box Office. Tickets are $15 each. For more information on the concert go to www.smmusd.org.

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