Education Through Music-Los Angeles (ETM-LA) raised support and awareness at our 7th annual benefit gala honoring this year’s recipients of the Shining Star Award: legendary Academy Award®-winning composer John Williams and music teacher (Los Angeles Unified School District) Linda Mouradian at the Skirball Cultural Center on Nov. 4. The “Shining Star” honorees are individuals whose contribution through music has changed lives. “Through music, they inspire, guide, impart courage, and give us wings to reach our dreams,” says ETM-LA Executive Director, Victoria Lanier.
Grammy-Winning Cellist Lynn Harrell, Los Angeles Philharmonic Associate Concertmaster, Bing Wang, and LA Philharmonic Principal Keyboardist, Joanne Pearce Martin gave stunning performances of works by Williams, including Schindler’s List and Memoirs of a Geisha. Honorary chairs of the gala were Joshua Bell, Richard Dreyfuss, Jim Gianopulos, Kathleen Kennedy, and Frank Marshall.
Arguably the biggest stars may have been the young music students of the Education Through Music-LA program. The first ensemble was comprised of string students from Castelar (LAUSD), Norwood (LAUSD), and Providencia (Burbank) Elementary Schools, as well as Mouradian’s students from Topeka Drive Elementary (LAUSD), who performed an arrangement of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”. They were followed by a choir ensemble of students from Cleveland (Pasadena), Foster (Compton), Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Rio Vista (LAUSD), St. Ignatius and West Hollywood (LAUSD) on an arrangement of Williams’ “Dry Your Tears Afrika” (from Amistad) which garnered a standing ovation from Williams himself.
As he accepted his Shining Star Award, John Williams shared the importance of music education in children’s lives and its impact on all of us - "While we have the best orchestras and arts institutions in the world, we can’t afford to lag behind in arts education, and music in particular, as these studies form the foundation that supports our country’s cultural life and intellectual vigor.” Williams also praised the work of fellow honoree, Mouradian for her long-time dedication to children and to the field of music education.
Honoree Linda Mouradian, who has taught for over 34 years in the Los Angeles Unified School District shared in her award acceptance speech, “Music is an essential element in our humanity…It has the unique ability to cross all cultures. Beethoven’s 9th, Penny Lane, Thriller and…Star Wars and Harry Potter are recognizable around the world. When the world seems to be dividing can we afford to lose one more unifying connection?”
Other stars who came to support the cause included Harry Shum, Jr. (Actor, Glee), Christopher Young (Composer, Rum Diary, Sinister), Christophe Beck (Composer, The Hangover, Pitch Perfect), Christopher Scott (Choreographer, So You Think You Can Dance), Mark Isham (Composer, Once Upon A Time, Warrior), Jon M. Chu (Director, G.I. Joe, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never) and Christopher Lennertz (Composer, Revolution; ETM-LA Board Director).
We are grateful for your ongoing support to ensure more children receive the benefits of a well-rounded education that includes music and the arts. Whether rain or shine, all children should be given the opportunity to smile and shine through the joy of learning music. Despite the enormous continuing budget cuts, with your partnership and contribution, Education Through Music-LA will continue to keep music alive in our schools. We are grateful for you, and wish you all the best for this upcoming holiday season!
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