The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is made up of sixteen schools. The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District recently initiated a curricular restructuring which allows all 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students to receive music instruction. Every 2nd and 3rd grader in SMMUSD receives general music instruction. In the 4th and 5th grades, all students choose vocal or instrumental music. These students continue to develop their musicianship in strong middle school programs. Organizing and supporting the efforts of the district’s music faculty is Fine Arts Coordinator Tom Whaley, a critical link in the continued strength of the arts in SMMUSD.
Santa Monica High School, fondly referred to as “Samohi,” has existed for 120 years and has a current enrollment of approximately 3200 diverse students on a 33-acre campus with a view of the Pacific Ocean.
Santa Monica High School has a long tradition of musical excellence. Samohi music offerings include six bands, six choral groups, six orchestras and classes in piano and guitar. Music courses range in difficulty from entry level to advanced. Approximately 800 students participate in the music program. Several factors contribute to the strength of the music programs at Samohi, including strong elementary and middle school feeder programs, a community supportive of the arts, dedicated parents, a fine arts coordinator and enthusiastic administrative support.
Samohi’s Orchestras Orchestral offerings are Beginning/String Orchestra, Concert Orchestra, Sinfonia Orchestra, Philharmonic Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra. All orchestras meet everyday, with the exception of Chamber Orchestra, which meets after school for two hours twice a week. Students enrolled in Concert, Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestras receive one hour per week of sectional instruction taught by paid coaches funded by the Samohi Orchestra Parents’ Association.
The Samohi Symphony was founded in 1903, making the 11/12 school year its 109th anniversary. In 1992 and in 1994 the Symphony Orchestra took part in the International Youth Music Festival in Vienna, Austria. In 1996, the Symphony was featured at the International Festival of Youth Orchestras in Valencia, Spain. In 1999, the Santa Monica High School Symphony Orchestra was chosen to perform at the 53rd Annual Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, and in 2002 the Symphony performed at Carnegie Hall.
More recently, in 2004 the orchestra participated in the Dvorák Centenary Festival in the Czech Republic. The Samohi Symphony performed at the Rudolfinum in Prague as well as in Brno, Nelahozeves, and Vienna. In 2005, the Samohi Symphony received Grand Champion at the ASTA with NSOA National Orchestra Festival in Reno, Nevada. During 2006, the Samohi Symphony Orchestra became the first public high school ensemble to perform at Walt Disney Concert Hall as a part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s “Sounds About Town” series. In April 2006, the Samohi Symphony, by invitation from the city of Hangzhou, China, participated in an East Asian tour. Highlights of their ten-day performance tour of China included a public concert at the Red Star Theater in Hangzhou and exchange concerts at Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music, the Xinghai Conservatory in Guangzhou, and the Hangzhou High School of Performing Arts.
Samohi Orchestra Parents’ Association
The orchestra program receives generous support from the Santa Monica Orchestra Parents’ Association. This dedicated group of parents supports the orchestras financially as well as by volunteering time and talent to maintain a quality music program. The parent organization raises funds for the purchase of sheet music, for instruments, for hiring coaches and for scholarships. The parent group also assists with orchestra tours, organizing concerts and a host of other activities.