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Summer Soiree 2017 Showcases Burbank Musicians

The third annual Summer Soiree 2017 showcases young musicians from Burbank with a special free concert for the Burbank community on Monday, June 26.

Students from William McKinley Elementary school choir and from the string program at Providencia Elementary will take the stage along with older students and recent graduates of Burbank Unified and the Colburn School of Performing Arts.

summer soiree 2017Organized by John Burroughs High School senior Maya Paredes and David Starr Jordan eighth-grader Eyén Paredes, the annual event raises funds through donations, raffles and sponsorships for Education Through Music – Los Angeles.

ETM-LA is a Burbank-based nonprofit which provides music education programs at 25 Title 1 schools throughout Los Angeles country, including programs at McKinley, Providencia and George Washington Elementary in Burbank.

At the Summer Soiree’s 2015 inaugural event, the Concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Martin Chalifour performed as a special guest. In 2016, the Summer Soiree was headlined by one of the top Fischoff International Chamber Music junior division competitors in the country, Trio Épicé from the Colburn School.

Summer Soiree 2017 features several students from the Colburn School of Performing Arts, including Javier Martinez (clarinet), Nicholas Castaño (cello), Maya Paredes (piano) and Eyén Paredes (violin and piano.)

summer soiree 2017

Providencia Elementary string players at the 2016 Summer Soiree. (Photo by © Ross A Benson)

A jazz trio featuring bassist Josh Turner (JBHS ’16, currently attending Cal Arts), drummer Corey Gordon (USC) and saxophonist Nathaniel Young (The New School) will perform Wayne Shorter’s classic “Yes Or No” and an original jazz composition by Turner. The trio are all CSPA graduates.

Summer Soiree 2017 returns to the First Presbyterian Church of Burbank, located at 521 E. Olive Avenue. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The hour-long concert begins at 7:00 p.m., with a reception to follow.

Admission is free but guests are asked to RSVP at summersoiree2017.eventbrite.com. More information on ETM-LA can be found here.

Summer Music Soiree Presents Free Concert For Burbank Community

Local Burbank students played on a classical music program with L.A. Philharmonic Concertmaster Martin Chalifour at the Summer Music Soiree Monday evening, July 27. A free concert for the community, the Summer Music Soiree raised more than $500 in donations for Education Through Music – LA (ETM-LA.)

“I wanted to share my love of music with the community of Burbank,” commented event organizer and Burroughs High School sophomore Maya Paredes. “I have seen first hand the work Education Through Music – LA does in our local schools and wanted to encourage people to donate and help support music education in public schools.”

UCLA violinist Sarah Worden, Burroughs sophomore Maya Paredes (piano) and Chaminade junior Veronica Mansour (cello) perform the exquisite Rachmaninoff "Piano Trio No. 1 Elegiaque." Jordan student Eyen Paredes turns pages. (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

UCLA violinist Sarah Worden, Burroughs sophomore Maya Paredes (piano) and Chaminade junior Veronica Mansour (cello) perform the Rachmaninoff “Piano Trio No. 1 Elegiaque.” Jordan student Eyen Paredes turns pages. (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Chalifour, concertmaster of the L.A. Philharmonic for 20 years, performed some selections from the widely-enjoyed Bach Partita for Violin No.3. His engaging style, seen up close, thrilled many in the audience, who have usually only seen him perform from afar at the Hollywood Bowl and Walt Disney Concert Hall.

The concert drew nearly 100 members of the Burbank community and from throughout Los Angeles and included a program of folk songs, chamber music and piano and violin solos. Held in the acoustically-resonant and stunning Sanctuary of the First Presbyterian Church of Burbank, the Summer Music Soiree wowed attendees with the level of musicianship and performance.

L.A. Philharmonic Concertmaster Martin Chalifour played some selections from the Bach Partita 3. (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

L.A. Philharmonic Concertmaster Martin Chalifour played some selections from the Bach Partita 3. (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

The exquisite and dramatic Sergei Rachmaninoff Piano Trio No. 1 Elegiaque was an audience favorite. The Rachmaninoff was played with finesse by the chamber music trio of UCLA sophomore violinist Sarah Worden, a former Concertmaster of the Glendale Youth Orchestra, and Chaminade High School junior cellist Veronica Mansour with Maya on piano.

The Johannes Brahms Cello Sonata No. 1 was another selection that brought audience members to their feet in applause. Veronica and Maya played the Brahms chamber music composition for cello and piano with emotion and musicality.

“The Brahms is a noble work of very high quality,” explained piano teacher Mark Richman.

Ella Jennings performs a Seitz violin concerto. (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Ella Jennings performs a Seitz violin concerto. (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Burroughs freshman Ella Jennings, who’s studied violin for four years, performed a solo concerto piece by Fritz Seitz with accompanist Carolyn Lessley. Ella and Jordan sixth-grader Eyen Paredes played a violin duet attributed to W.A. Mozart, Der Spiegel.

Eyen played violin with her sister Maya for the chamber music piece by Astor Piazzolla, Oblivion. She also performed two classical music solo pieces by Giovanni Pescetti and Reinhold Gliere.

ETM-LA students from Providencia opened the concert with folk songs. Natalie Perez (violin), Avanti Jimenez (cello) and Stephanie Wilson (cello) from Providencia Elementary were joined by violinists Ella, Eyen and Roosevelt Elementary student Evan Lanier.

ETM-LA Strings Teacher Megan Shung Smith conducts the ETM-LA ensemble of Natalie Perez (violin), Ella Jennings (violin), Eyen Paredes (violin), Evan Lanier (violin), Avanti Jimenez (cello) and Stephanie Wilson (cello.) (from left to right) (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

ETM-LA Strings Teacher Megan Shung Smith conducts the ETM-LA ensemble of Natalie Perez (violin), Ella Jennings (violin), Eyen Paredes (violin), Evan Lanier (violin), Avanti Jimenez (cello) and Stephanie Wilson (cello.) (from left to right) (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Maya demonstrated her love of performance and eight years of serious piano study with her parts for the Piazzolla, Rachmaninoff and Brahms. She concluded the concert with the showy Felix Mendelssohn solo piece Rondo Capriccioso.

Education Through Music – LA currently provides music instruction to all fourth- and fifth-graders at Providencia Elementary in addition to Kindergarteners and first- graders at Washington Elementary. Part of the ETM-LA instruction in Burbank Unified includes an elementary strings program taught by Megan Shung Smith.

Maya Paredes and Eyen Paredes (violin) perform Piazzolla's "Oblivion."(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Maya Paredes and Eyen Paredes (violin) perform Piazzolla’s “Oblivion.”(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Both Maya and Ella have coached the Providencia strings students in previous years. Also a seasoned cellist with the Glendale Youth Orchestra, Maya had her first experiences learning violin and cello in her elementary school orchestra.

“We are so proud and touched by of all the young artists who gave their time to help keep music in our schools,” said ETM-LA Executive Director Victoria Lanier. “It’s great to see teenagers like Maya take the initiative to do something positive for their community and to be a role model for others.”

L.A. Phil Concertmaster Martin Chalifour, Ella Jennings, Eyen Paredes, Maya Paredes, Sarah Worden, Veronica Mansour, Avanti Jimenez, Stephanie Wilson, Natalie Perez and Evan Lanier performed at ETM-LA's Summer Music Soiree in Burbank. (from left to right)

L.A. Phil Concertmaster Martin Chalifour, Ella Jennings, Eyen Paredes, Maya Paredes, Sarah Worden, Veronica Mansour, Avanti Jimenez, Stephanie Wilson, Natalie Perez and Evan Lanier performed at ETM-LA’s Summer Music Soiree in Burbank. (from left to right)

“We’re also so grateful to Martin Chalifour for continuing to champion music for all children and sharing his brilliant artistry with us.”

ETM-LA currently serves more than 7000 students at Title 1 schools in the Los Angeles area and, Lanier added, “As ETM-LA embarks on our 10th Anniversary Year, our goal is to expand our reach to serve 20 schools and approximately 10,000 children.”

Maya hopes to organize more free concerts like the Summer Music Soiree for the Burbank community in the future, improving access for all ages to hear and enjoy classical and other styles of music.

Disney Composer Richard Sherman And Burbank Music Teacher Steven Hollis Honored

Legendary Disney composer Richard M. Sherman and Burbank music teacher Steven Hollis were honored Sunday evening, December 7, at the Education Through Music – Los Angeles’ Ninth Annual Benefit Gala. Held at the Skirball Cultural Center, Sherman and Hollis were presented with Shining Star awards, recognizing their contributions to music and music education over the years.

Students from Burbank’s Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School joined children from other elementary schools throughout Los Angeles that participate in ETM-LA music programs for a rousing rendition of “Let’s Go Fly A Kite,” with Hollis playing piano.

Burbank music teacher Steven Hollis accompanies a group of Burbank and Los Angeles-area children singing "Let's Go Fly A Kite," in honor of composer Richard M. Sherman. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Burbank music teacher Steven Hollis accompanies a group of Burbank and Los Angeles-area children singing “Let’s Go Fly A Kite,” in honor of composer Richard M. Sherman. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Sherman, the Academy Award-winning composer and lyricist, who, with his brother Robert, wrote the songs for many Disney films including Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Jungle Book and Winnie the Pooh. They also wrote scores and songs for many other productions, such as the enduring film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, starring Dick Van Dyke.

The Sherman Brothers also composed the most translated song in the world, “It’s A Small World (After All),” for the Disneyland theme park attraction.

“I felt very fortunate as a young man because of the fact that music was a part of the academic career,” commented Sherman. “Unfortunately today, we don’t have the funding we should have. I’m happy to know that Education Through Music-Los Angeles is now working constantly, bringing the wonderful gift of music to youngsters because it’s so vital – it’s so important.”

Academy Award-winning composer Richard M. Sherman with a group of Burbank and Los Angeles schoolchildren on the Education Through Music- LA red carpet. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Academy Award-winning composer Richard M. Sherman with a group of Burbank and Los Angeles schoolchildren on the Education Through Music- LA red carpet. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Sherman played a medley of several of his famous songs, peppered with anecdotes, including a story about how he met with Walt Disney in his office at the Burbank studios every Friday afternoon and they would talk about their projects. Every week, Sherman said, Disney would eventually look up towards the Burbank Verdugos and ask Sherman to “play it” – “Feed The Birds” – Disney’s favorite song.

“I think music is a unifier. It’s something that gives people a sense of teamwork,” Sherman continued. “They learn how glorious it is to hear the various parts blending together. It’s a wonderful exultation of the human spirit.”

Actor Josh Gad sings "I Wanna Be Like You" from The Jungle Book to the song's composer/lyricist Richard M. Sherman at the Education Through Music - LA gala. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Actor Josh Gad sings “I Wanna Be Like You” from The Jungle Book to the song’s composer/lyricist Richard M. Sherman at the Education Through Music – LA gala. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Hollis teaches at three Burbank Unified School District sites: Roosevelt, McKinley and Edison. He works with over a 1000 students every week. Up until last year and the advent of additional funding for music programs, he taught close to 2000 BUSD students every week. While he teaches general music programs at McKinley and Edison, Hollis instructs the pilot ukelele program at Roosevelt Elementary.

Hollis points to the introduction of deaf and hard of hearing students into his school music classes, the implementation an integrated music, art, drama and dance curriculum for FAME (Fine Arts Methods in Education) and the development of a web site for engaged learning using Blues music and improvisation techniques as some of his most rewarding accomplishments.

Ryan Brophy, Melody Hollis, Mitch Hollis, Dawn Hollis and Shining Star honoree Steven Hollis at the Education Through Music - LA gala. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Ryan Brophy, Melody Hollis, Mitch Hollis, Dawn Hollis and Shining Star honoree Steven Hollis at the Education Through Music – LA gala. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

A professional pianist for more than 35 years, Hollis has performed as a solo artist and a member of a 16-piece show band, playing alongside Marvin Hamlish, Smokey Robinson, The Gatlin Brothers and Joan Rivers. He holds degrees of Bachelor of Music Education in Vocal/Instrumental K-12 and Masters of Arts with a music curriculum emphasis.

Hollis has taught for nearly 20 years, mainly in the Chicago area. He has taught music for BUSD for the past six years. He also teaches over 30 students  piano, voice, percussion, theory and guitar lessons from his studio on Olive Avenue in Burbank, Steve Hollis Music.

Shining Star honoree Richard M. Sherma, ETM-LA Executive Director Victoria Lanier, Michael Giacchino (ETM-LA Advisory Board), actor Josh Gad and John Debney (ETM-LA Honorary Chair) on the red carpet at the Education Through Music - LA gala. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Shining Star honoree Richard M. Sherma, ETM-LA Executive Director Victoria Lanier, Michael Giacchino (ETM-LA Advisory Board), actor Josh Gad and John Debney (ETM-LA Honorary Chair) on the red carpet at the Education Through Music – LA gala. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Honorary chairs of the gala included music education champions and celebrities such as Ellie Kemper, Ed Helms, John Debney, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Michael Feinstein, Michael Giacchino, Richard Kraft and Laura Engel, Christopher Lennertz, Alice and Leonard Maltin, Rickey Minor, Randy Spendlove and the Honorable Zev Yaroslavsky.

Other special presenters and performers featured were Josh Gad, (Actor/Singer, Olaf – Disney’s Frozen), Grammy Award-winning R&B/Pop Group All for One, Evelyn Halus, Karen Dotrice (Actress, Jane Banks – Mary Poppins) and Dr. Tom Kissinger, Assistant Superintendent of the Burbank Unified School District.

Children from Burbank and Los Angeles public schools sing "Let's Go Fly A Kite" with Shining Star honoree Steven Hollis on piano. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Children from Burbank and Los Angeles public schools sing “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” with Shining Star honoree Steven Hollis on piano. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

At the end of the evening, the Roosevelt Elementary School students joined Sherman onstage for an “It’s A Small World (After All)” sing-a-long with the audience.

Proceeds from the event benefit ETM-LA, a nonprofit organization provides music instruction and programs to more than 7000 children. The organization hopes to add another 1000 children to the tally by 2015.

Each year, ETM-LA celebrates two Shining Star honorees, a composer and a teacher, whose contributions through music have had great impact. Last year, ETM-LA honored David Starr Jordan Middle School teacher Christine DeMore and composer John Debney.

Actor Josh Gad visited with the young performers in the green room ahead of the 2014 Education Through Music - LA gala. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Actor Josh Gad visited with the young performers in the green room ahead of the 2014 Education Through Music – LA gala. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

‘Frozen’ Composer Christophe Beck Visits Providencia Elementary

Film composer Christophe Beck visited Providencia Elementary last week, talking with the school’s 400 students and performing the popular theme from his instrumental score for the Disney hit movie Frozen.

Beck showed clips from Frozen to explain to the children how a musical score brings life to a character, a scene or mood. He shared with the students that Elsa is his favorite character.

Christophe Beck performs a theme from "Frozen" for Providencia Elementary children. (Photo Courtesy of Education Through Music - LA)

Christophe Beck performs a theme from “Frozen” for Providencia Elementary children. (Photo Courtesy of Education Through Music – LA)

An Advisory Board member of Education Through Music – Los Angeles (ETM-LA), Beck has scored movies including Disney’s Frozen and The Muppets Movie, along with The Hangover.

“Music is a powerful force that brings our communities together,” said Beck, who has been a long-time advocate for music as a part of a child’s education.

Photo Courtesy of Education Through Music - LA

Photo Courtesy of Education Through Music – LA

“The entire Providencia community is so grateful to Christophe Beck for taking the time to share his expertise and to Education Through Music-LA for bringing this wonderful comprehensive music program to our school,” commented Providencia Principal Jennifer Culbertson.

Providencia Elementary gathered the most votes in an online voting contest held by ETM-LA, winning a visit by the well-known composer.

Executive Director of ETM-LA, Victoria Lanier shared, “We are grateful to Chris for championing our mission.”

Providencia Elementary Principal Jennifer Culbertson, Christophe Beck, ETM_LA Executive Director Victoria Lanier at the special assembly. (Photo Courtesy of Education Through Music - LA)

Providencia Elementary Principal Jennifer Culbertson, Christophe Beck, ETM_LA Executive Director Victoria Lanier at the special assembly. (Photo Courtesy of Education Through Music – LA)

All 400 students at Providencia receive weekly music classes, including instruction in violin and cello for all fourth- and fifth-graders, a result of the school’s partnership with Education Through Music-Los Angeles, Burbank Unified School District (BUSD) and VH1 Save the Music Foundation.

ETM-LA is a nonprofit organization that builds and sustains music programs for over 6000 children at elementary and middle schools throughout Los Angeles, including two elementary schools in Burbank.

Authors Visit Local Schools For Read Across America And Music Month

Children’s book authors Alecia Spendlove and Marc Sedaka read and sang with children at Providencia and Washington Elementary schools recently as part of Read Across America Day and Music In Our Schools Month.

Alecia Spendlove reads to Providencia Elementary kindergarteners. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Alecia Spendlove reads to Providencia Elementary kindergarteners. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

On Monday morning, March 3, Spendlove and Sedaka, joined by their own children, talked with approximately 50 Kindergarteners at Providencia about the inspiration for their books. The special assembly was held during the Kindergarten students’ weekly music class, which is provided for all classes in grades K through 5 by Education Through Music – L.A. (ETM-LA.)

Later that morning, Spendlove and Sedaka also read and sang with youngsters at Washington Elementary. Grades K through 3 at Washington receive regular music classes funded by ETM-LA, in partnership with BUSD’s fourth and fifth grade music teacher to sustain as school-wide program, according to Victoria Lanier, Executive Director of ETM-LA.

Spendlove, a former model, was motivated to write her first book Alexandra Rain, for her daughter Alexandra as a way to teach “the most important thing is to be kind to others and express that from the inside.”

After first creating an app of her book and recording songs, Spendlove then published Alexandra Rain. The voice of Alexandra Rain, fourth-grader Alison Boomer, also appeared with Spendlove to read the character’s words and sing a song with the children.

Marc Sedaka and his daughter Charlotte sing along with music teacher Carrie Ann Bark and Providencia students. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Marc Sedaka and his daughter Charlotte sing along with music teacher Carrie Ann Bark and Providencia students. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Screenwriter and author Sedaka, son of musician Neil Sedaka, worked with his father to create a children’s version of the elder Sedaka’s well-known song “Calendar Girl.” Dinosaur Pet was the result, and the book can be read and sung along to the “Calendar Girl” melody.

Sedaka was joined by his daughter Charlotte to read and sing the colorful book to the children. He also talked about working with an illustrator to create the images in the book.

“The boy in the pictures looks like my father did as a boy,” said Sedaka. He pointed out little items in the images that had a personal connection, such as the titles of the books in the illustrated bedroom are his own children’s names.

Marc Sedaka and Alecia Spendlove (front row) are joined by BUSD Superintendent Dr. Jan Britz, Providencia Principal Jen Culbertson, music teacher Carrie Ann Bark and ETM-LA Executive Director Victoria Lanier (second row, left to right.) (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Marc Sedaka and Alecia Spendlove (front row) are joined by BUSD Superintendent Dr. Jan Britz, Providencia Principal Jen Culbertson, music teacher Carrie Ann Bark and ETM-LA Executive Director Victoria Lanier (second row, left to right.) (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“Our family time revolves around playing music and reading with our kids. Not only does this enhance their creativity, it gives them a foundation necessary to succeed,” commented Spendlove. “We see the benefits firsthand and believe that every child has the right to experience the joy of a creative, well-rounded education.”

Spendlove also donated an Alexandra Rain book to each Kindergarten and first grade classroom and the libraries at the two schools. Fifteen percent of the proceeds from sales of the book worldwide during March will go to support Providencia and Washington’s music programs, added Lanier.

ETM-LA Executive Director Victoria Lanier, Washington Elementary Principal Brandi Young, Alecia Spendlove and Marc Sedaka (back row, left to right) join their children and voice of Alexandra Rain, Alison Boomer (center) after the program. (Photo Courtesy Education Through Music - Los Angeles)

ETM-LA Executive Director Victoria Lanier, Washington Elementary Principal Brandi Young, Alecia Spendlove and Marc Sedaka (back row, left to right) join their children and voice of Alexandra Rain, Alison Boomer (center) after the program. (Photo Courtesy Education Through Music – Los Angeles)

Jordan Choir Teacher, Burbank-based Composer Honored At Skirball Gala

On Tuesday evening, December 10, Jordan Middle School choir and music teacher Christine DeMore was presented with the Shining Star award along with Burbank-based composer John Debney by Education Through Music – Los Angeles (ETM-LA.) Actor Ed Helms emceed the event, held at the Skirball Center, and the entire Madrigals choir group from Jordan were part of the featured entertainment along with a number of Grammy-winning musicians.

Christine DeMore conducts the Madrigals performance of John Debney's theme from "Elf" at the Skirball Center. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Christine DeMore conducts Jordan’s Madrigals choir and LAUSD youth orchestra members in a performance of John Debney’s theme from “Elf” at the Skirball Center, backed by Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

As Vocal Music Director at Jordan Middle for the past 14 years, Christine DeMore oversees five award-winning choirs, comprised of 300 students – a full one-fourth of the school population, focusing on a classical choir program. The choir groups at Jordan, especially the primarily 8th-grade populated Madrigals, are also recognized as one of the top show choirs in Southern California. Many of these students go on to be soloists and members of John Burroughs High School’s nationally recognized choir program.

Mrs. DeMore accepts the Shining Star award with an inspiring speech. (Photo Courtesy of Cathy Jaramillo.)

Mrs. DeMore accepts the Shining Star award with an inspiring speech. (Photo Courtesy of Cathy Jaramillo.)

Mrs. DeMore also directs Vocal Ensemble, an auditioned group of 12 voices, known for their a capella work. Every year, as Mrs. DeMore explains the choir program to parents, she emphasizes the college-level vocabulary and music theory she teaches to the children. In addition to vocal music, Mrs. DeMore teaches general music classes as part of the 6th grade elective program.

“I started teaching in college but I didn’t get this fabulous job here at Jordan until later in life. Children have fabulous imaginations at this age and if you can draw on their imagination, they can make incredible sounds,” commented Mrs. DeMore. “It’s more fun to teach and work with children because they sing with imagination.”

“What’s unique about Jordan kids are the sounds they make – their willingness to imagine sound and make that sound,” Mrs. DeMore added. “It’s all about how you design that sound, and they are such willing players.”

Jordan Madrigals perform with Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band, directed by Christine DeMore. (Photo Courtesy of Nadia Naffa

Jordan Madrigals perform with Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, directed by Christine DeMore. (Photo Courtesy of Nadia Naffa

“What interests me is education, even more than music. Any type of music interests me, and in an educational way. I’m always wondering how to find a better way to teach kids: how much can you get from them; how high can the expectation be?” Mrs. DeMore went on to explain. “The more I expect, the more I get. The more music I give them, the more they want. They’re insatiable. So I’m always curious about schools that are low performing – they’re middle schools like us. How come the expectation isn’t that high? How come I’m not seeing that across the board?”

“It has to do with educating and with kids coming out of college – who’s guiding you to take on a group of children and make something special? You have to have a personal drive. That’s what I like about teaching at USC, to see these teachers in the final phase of their master’s degree. I’m telling them: ‘You must set your expectations high. Here’s how to get there, here’s how to do it. But go out and be the best you can be and try to get more from kids.'”

“It’s just the expectations seem so low so much of the time and that’s what’s mind-boggling,” continued Mrs. DeMore. “I think what we do isn’t that special, but there’s never a free moment. There’s always work happening. You’d think kids would reject it and not want to work, but that’s not true. They want more.”

Violinist Julie Gigante (who presented the award), Christine DeMore, David DeMore and Ella DeMore at the pre-gala reception. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Violinist Julie Gigante (who presented the award), Christine DeMore, David DeMore and Ella DeMore at the pre-gala reception. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Mrs. DeMore serves on the faculty of the USC Thornton School of Music, Master of Arts in Teaching program, teaching “Choral Conducting in the Classroom” and “Vocal Pedagogy” for choral and instrumental music graduate students. In 2008, Mrs. DeMore was awarded Burbank Teacher of the Year award and the Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year award. She and her husband David have two children and three grandchildren.

“Typically we honor those individuals that may fly under the radar and are very well-respected in their field. After Christine DeMore was nominated, I went to see her teach and I was blown away,” commented Victoria Lanier, ETM-LA Executive Director.

Composer John Debney speaks with a teen reporter on the red carpet. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Composer John Debney speaks with a teen reporter on the red carpet. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Award-winning composer John Debney was honored as well that evening with the Shining Star. Mr. Debney’s score for The Passion of the Christ was nominated for an Academy Award and he has scored box-office hits including  Elf, Bruce Almighty, The Princess Diaries 1 & 2 and Iron Man 2. Mr. Debney recently scored The Call with Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin and Jobs, starring Ashton Kutcher. Currently, he is working on Draft Day with Kevin Costner, SpongeBob Square Pants 2, and the TV mini-series Bonnie & Clyde.

Mr. Debney was born in Burbank and grew up in nearby Glendale. His studios are located in Burbank and he has performed at Providencia Elementary as part of the ETM-LA enrichment music classes. He, his wife and children also reside in the area. In his acceptance speech, he spoke of the challenges a musician and composer faces, including rejection, and lauded perseverance.

“Receiving this wonderful honor has touched a special place in my heart. Being able to give back to children by helping foster music education in our schools is of paramount importance,” commented Mr. Debney, after the event. “Music can enrich a child’s life in so many ways. It helps develop the mind and the heart. It is an outlet and a unifying force for good between all people. That is why my wife Lola and I felt that this organization was one we wanted to be a part of. Education Through Music LA helps so many kids, and we are honored to be a small part of this amazing organization.”

Ed Helms serenades the signed banjo auction winners. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Ed Helms serenades the signed banjo auction winners: Michael Giacchino, Michael Gorfaine, Richard Kraft and Randy Spendlove. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Mr. Helms entertained the guests throughout evening with song, comedy and some auctioneering. A group of four music industry executives bid $10,000 each for four signed banjos and a song made up on the spot and serenaded to them by Mr. Helms. Monica Mancini performed her father Henry’s classic “Moon River” with Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band. Lisbeth Scott performed music from The Passion of the Christ with Chris Bleth, Steve Erdody and Mike Watts to a hushed audience.

ETM-LA’s Shining Star Award is bestowed upon one educator and one composer at the Annual Benefit Gala. The annual fete brings together some of the largest names and personalities in the music and performing arts arenas, and serves as a fundraiser to support ETM-LA’s ongoing partnerships and programs at certain LAUSD and BUSD schools.

“It’s is an amazing team of supporters and is making a real difference in children’s lives,” stated Ms. Lanier. “We are committed to honoring these composers and educators who do so much to further musical education for children.”

Christine Demore poses with some of the members of the Jordan Midd;e School Madridals on the red carpet at ETMLA's annual benefit gala at the Skirball Center. (Photo By Lisa Paredes.)

Christine DeMore poses with some of the members of the Jordan Midd;e School Madridals on the red carpet at ETMLA’s annual benefit gala at the Skirball Center. (Photo By Lisa Paredes.)

Last Tuesday’s event raised more than $200,000 for ETM-LA’s programs, via online and in person auctions and personal and corporate donations. The nonprofit will hopefully reach their goal of $250,000 once all the donations are tallied.

Education Through Music started more than 20 years ago in New York City as a nonprofit organization dedicated to provided music teachers and instruments in public schools. Now in it’s eighth year in Los Angeles, ETM-LA has partnered with several schools in LAUSD in addition to BUSD’s Providencia Elementary and Washington Elementary, at which they provide weekly music teachers and present special guest artists, including Mr. Debney and Mr. Helms.

Past honorees include Academy-award winning composers John Williams and Michael Giacchino and educators Reggie Andrews and Julie West, among others. The Honorary Chair Committee include Jon Favreau, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Jane Kaczmarek, Ellie Kemper, Garry Marshall, Rickey Minor, Ivan Reitman, Tom Shadyac and Mary Steenburgen.