Unless you enjoy traffic jams, you will want to stay far, far away from the intersection of Wilshire and Sepulveda Boulevards on Friday and Saturday, April 8 and 9…and for the next year.

Friday, April 8, at 10 p.m., a contractor will begin placing K-rails and installing temporary lighting and signals there. For 12 hours, all traffic signals will be turned off at the intersection and traffic control officers will direct traffic.

When the work is done, Wilshire will be reduced by one center lane in each direction. All turn lanes will remain. This reduced traffic configuration is expected to be in place for one year. Expect two lane closures on eastbound and westbound Wilshire from Bonsall to Veteran, and the reduction of Sepulveda to one lane in each direction from Constitution to Ohio.

— with thanks to George Wolfberg, president of the Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association for the warning.

62nd Stairway to the Stars Is April 7 & 8

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s “Stairway of the
Stars” may be both the longest and shortest running musical in America —
62 years, but only two nights per year.

The 62nd annual edition will open on Thursday, April 7, at 7 p.m. in the
Civic Auditorium and close Friday, April 8.

This extravaganza is one of the most popular annual events in both Santa Monica and Malibu, as it spotlights the talents of the schools’ music students and teachers, as well as the breadth and depth of the music curriculum.

Focus of this year’s “Stairway” will be the orchestra and the 2011 guest conductor, Pete Anthony. Twenty-six bands, orchestras, and choirs will

Anthony is one of the busiest conductors and orchestrators in L.A.’s film industry. In his 20-plus years in the business, He 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). Anthony brings an intuition for the art of orchestration, an enormous respect for his musician colleagues, and a spirit of collaboration with the composer and filmmakers to his work, and is known for his discerning ear and quick wit on the podium.

He 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, he has been a part-time faculty member at USC, teaching orchestration and conducting. He 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).
He lives in Malibu with his wife Elizabeth and their three children, all of whom attend Malibu High School. Not surprisingly, they are all musicians and will perform in “Stairway.”

In addition to his demanding conducting career, Pete is an active advocate for 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.

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.

Josephs, Sedillos To Be Honored at Stairway

This year’s Stairway Honor Award will be shared this year by two women who have made played significant roles in developing, sustaining and enlarging the district’s music and arts programs, Zina Josephs and Jean Sedillos.

Growing up in a family of musicians and teachers, 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.

Josephs 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, Josephs 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 of making a comprehensive, sequential arts education program (including Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts) an integral part of the core curriculum for all K-12 SMMUSD students. (www.smmusd.org/vapa )

In 1999, Josephs was appointed to the SMMUSD Prop X Oversight Committee, where she worked to ensure 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. Its nine-year strategic plan for arts education was 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. 1,050 elementary students received music instruction from credentialed music teachers in 2004, but this funding allowed 2,487 elementary students to receive instruction from credentialed music teachers in 2007.

Josephs 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.

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

She often cites 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 never stopped. . With her two daughters in band, orchestra, and choir, she concentrated on supporting the district’s music programs.

In 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 continue to 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.

In 1991, though she is not a Samo alumna, she used her powers of persuasion to convince 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 saved the alums from embarrassing themselves.

In 1997, Sedillos was one of a number of parents and music teachers who believed that the music program needed official representation within the district, and 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.

That same year, 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 to ensuring that the colors of the new paint were historically accurate.

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).

Sedillos lobbied the school board tirelessly until the district conducted a use study and hired a theater manager to make sure that Barnum Hall, one of the community’s most architecturally and historically significant buildings, as well as one of its most beautiful and important resources, is well and truly used to benefit Samohi and the community. The hall now generates enough revenue to ensure its well-being. Along with the Samohi Alumni Association, Sedillos still helps with some maintenance and improvement projects, such as last summer’s installation of a priceless donated Wurltizer theater organ.

Her 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, Sedillos lives in Santa Monica with her husband Jon and their Welsh Corgi, James Macaño, who also sings.

Pico Branch Library Design To Be Unveiled Tues.

The fifth and final workshop in the “Let’s Talk Pico Branch Library” series at
which the schematic design by Koning Eizenberg Architects for the proposed 8,300 square foot branch library will be unveiled will be held on Tuesday, April 5, at 7:00 p.m. in the Thelma Terry Community Meeting Room
at Virginia Avenue Park, 2200 Virginia Avenue.

This will be the last opportunity for Pico Neighborhood residents who have sought their own branch library for years to evaluate and comment on the design.

Construction is scheduled to begin next spring.

Virginia Avenue Park is served by Big Blue Bus Lines 7 and 11. The park is wheelchair accessible and welcomes persons of all abilities. For special accommodations, call the park at (310) 458-8688 or TTY (310) 917-6626 at least three business days prior to the workshop. A Spanish-language translator and child care will be available at the workshop.

For more information about Let’s Talk Pico Branch Library Community Workshops, call Library Administration at (310) 458-8606, signup for email updates at pico.library@smgov.net, or visit the web site www.smpl.org/pico/library.htm


March 31, Cesar Chavez’s birthday, is a state holiday, because Chavez is an
American hero.

The son of migrant farm workers and a farm worker himself, Chavez co-founded the United Farm Workers with Dolores Huerta, and led its long, ultimately successful struggle for fair wages and better working conditions.

He dropped out of school after eighth grade to help support his family, and later spent two years in the Navy, after which he joined the Community Service Organization, a Latino civil rights group where he developed the organizational skills — coordinating voter registration drives, anti-discrimination campaigns and non-violent protests — that he and Huerta used to found and build the National Farm Workers Association (now United Farm Workers), It won bargaining rights in 1975 with the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act. Chavez was active in the organization until he died in 1993.

In 1994, he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The Pico Youth and Family Center will end a four-day celebration of the life and work of Cesar Chavez tonight from 4 to 7 p.m.. A documentary film will be shown. The Ballet Folklorico Grupo La Rosa will appear, PYFC musicians will perform, and some special guests will attend. Everyone is invited to attend the celebration.

Monday, March 28, was Movie Night. A film about Cesar and the long struggle was shown, after which there was a discussion.

Tuesday, March 29, was Beautification Day, as Pico Youth and Family Center
members cleaned up alleys and pathways and built a garden box outside the Center.

Wednesday, March 30, UCLA students held a Xinochtli Workshop.

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.” – César E. Chávez