It’s not just an event, it’s a tradition,
and there’s virtually nothing in this area
that has a longer or more impressive hist-
ory than the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified
School District’s annual Stairway of the
The 65th Annual Stairway of the Stars will
be held in the stunning Art Deco Barnum
Hall on the campus of Santa Monica High
School, and will span three nights: Choir
on February 7, Band on February 11, and
Orchestra on February 13. Each of the three
concerts will begin at 7:00pm.
For decades, Stairway has been an eagerly
awaited spectacle in both Santa Monica
and Malibu, as it spotlights the district’s
music students, teachers, and music curri-
culum. This year, twenty-six choirs, bands,
and orchestras, including students from all
of the school district’s sixteen schools,
will dazzle the audiences at the three
Stairway of the Stars concerts.
As a special treat, there will be three
guest conductors this year – one for each
night of the concert. The Stairway Guest
Choir Conductor will be Dr. Albert J.
McNeil, the Guest Band Conductor will be
Dr. Thomas Lee, and the Guest Orchestra
Conductor will be Mr. Bruce Kiesling.
Professor Emeritus of Music at UC Davis
and founder of the Albert McNeil Jubilee
Singers, Dr. Albert J. McNeil is Profe-
ssor Emeritus of Music at UC Davis and
founder of the Albert McNeil Jubilee
Singers, an ensemble that has toured in
forty-four states and seventy-seven
countries. Dr. McNeil will be the guest
conductor at the February 7 Choir Concert,
which will feature African American spir-
ituals and art songs, such as “Down by
the Riverside” and “Follow the Drinking
Gourd,” as well as George Gershwin’s
“Summertime.” Dr. McNeil will be joined
by soloists Nell Walker and Michael
Wright from the Jubilee Singers.
2014 Stairway Guest Band Conductor, Pro-
fessor Emeritus, Director of Bands and
Conductor of the UCLA Wind Ensemble, Dr.
Thomas Lee will be guest conductor at
the February 11 Band Concert, which will
include “The Trombone King” by Karl L.
King, “Blessed Are They” by Johannes
Brahms, and Camille Saint Saens’ “French
Military March.” The Jazz Bands will
play Chick Corea’s “Spain,” with special
guest soloist John Beasley.
2014 Stairway Guest Orchestra Conductor
Bruce Kiesling, is Assistant Conductor of
the Pasadena Symphony and Conductor of
the LA Philharmonic’s Youth Orchestra of
Los Angeles (YOLA). He will be the guest
conductor at the February 13 Orchestra
Concert, the music of which will range
from Ray Anthony’s “Hokey Pokey” and “Bun-
ny Hop” to “Scarborough Fair” to the beau-
tiful Adagietto from Mahler’s Symphony No.
5 (which the composer wrote as a love
letter to his wife), and conclude with
Rossini’s exciting “William Tell Overture.”
Each year, the district’s music teachers
vote on the “Stairway Honor Award Recip-
ient.” The award is presented to a former
student, teacher, or an organization that
has contributed enormously to the advanc-
ement of music and arts education in the
Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.
This year, the 2014 Stairway Honor Award
Recipient will be the Beasley family.
The late Lida Beasley taught orchestra
at John Adams Middle School, Santa Monica
High School, and Santa Monica College.
Her husband, Rule Beasley, taught classes
ranging from composition to jazz improvi-
sation at Santa Monica College and played
bassoon in the Santa Monica Symphony for
twenty years. Their two sons, John and
Paul, attended local schools, and John,
who is an internationally renowned jazz
pianist, will perform at the February 11
concert, and, with Rule, will accept
the award on behalf of the family.
The ensembles that will perform at the
65th Annual Stairway of the Stars con-
certs are the All-District Elementary
Honor Choir and Middle and High School
Choirs (Friday, February 7); Elementary,
Middle, and High School Bands and Jazz
Bands (Tuesday, February 11); and Elem-
entary, Middle, and High School Orches-
tras (Thursday, February 13). In all,
more than 1,100 of the district’s nearly
5,000 student musicians will be perform-
ing at the this year’s three Stairway
concerts. Organizing rehearsals for
student musicians from sixteen schools,
stretching from the Ocean Park neigh-
borhood on the south side of Santa Mon-
ica all the way to the northern reaches
of Malibu, thirty miles away, is a daunt-
ing task. But each year, the Stairway
concerts result in students from all
across the school district making music
Make a donation to support the extraor-
dinary quality of the SMMUSD Music Prog-
ram! You can include a donation when
you purchase your tickets, or by using
the Online Stairway Form on the Stairway
of the Stars website http://smmusd.org/
vapa/stairway/. If you have an instru-
ment that you no longer use, please con-
sider our “PLAY IT FORWARD” instrument
donation program. Visit http://smmusd.
org/vapa/ and click on “DONATE AN INS-
TRUMENT!” for details.
As there is high demand for tickets to
the Stairway concerts, only families
of the student performers were given
access to advanced ticket sales through
January 26. Tickets not sold during the
advanced period are now available to the
public through January 31 during an on-
line sale hosted by Brown Paper Tickets.
Visit www.brownpapertickets.com and enter
“Stairway of the Stars” in the “Find an
event” field. After January 31, if any
tickets remain, they will be on sale for
$15 at the Barnum Hall box office on the
night of each concert, starting at 5:30
p.m. Each evening, tickets will be sold
ONLY for that night’s concert.
Parking will be available at the Civic
Center Parking Structure. The entrance
is on 4th Street at Civic Center Drive
(between Pico Boulevard and Olympic Drive).
For many years, Stairway was staged in
the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, but it
is currently closed while a committee
charts its future course. Barnum Hall was
restored some years ago and is once again
a fully functioning theater. If you have-
n’t been there since the renovation, you
should allow time to look around as it
is quite beautiful, and unique, and a
fitting hall for Stairway’s very tal-
ented young musicians.