Last weekend, Education Through Music-Los Angeles honored Actor and Musician Ed Helms and Veteran Music Teacher Richard Meyer with their prestigious Shining Star award, at their 11th Annual Benefit Gala which took place at the Skirball Cultural Center.

Ed Helms and Teacher Richard Meyer pose with Host Andy Richter and students on the red carpet at Education Through Music-Los Angeles' 11th Annual Benefit
Ed Helms and Teacher Richard Meyer pose with Host Andy Richter and students on the red carpet at Education Through Music-Los Angeles' 11th Annual Benefit

Each year, the Shining Stars are awarded to individuals whose contributions through music have changed lives. “Through music, our honorees inspire our youth to achieve their highest potential and improve the lives of others,” said ETM-LA Executive Director, Victoria Lanier.

The evening was hosted by actor and late night talk show announcer Andy Richter (Conan), and included performances by Moby, Ed Helms, Lisa Loeb, and Dustbowl Revival. Angela Kinsey and Christina Applegate, who both played Helms’ love interests on prior projects (The Office and Vacation, respectively) were on hand to present Helms his award. Both revealed Helms’ love of music, providing stories of him sharing his passion for banjo, singing, and bluegrass with his castmates on and off set.

Helms sits on the Advisory Board for Education Through Music-Los Angeles and is a long-time champion for the cause. “The gap in education opportunities in different communities is one of the great social injustices, and Education Through Music-LA plugs right into that in a very smart and critical way,” said Helms. “Music has impact. And ETM-LA is a force-multiplier for that impact. [They] put teachers back in the schools, provide a curriculum, [and] provide resources.”

Having taught over 35 years, Veteran Music Teacher Richard Meyer described the impact that music has had, stating that “music is the most important thing to me, and to be able to pass that onto students and make it one of the most important things to them is very meaningful to me. Music is a tool to develop students; it’s a wonderful way to draw students out and to help them express themselves.”

Approximately 80 young students from ETM-LA Partner Schools Castelar Elementary, Dorris Place Elementary, Hooper Elementary, Rio Vista Elementary, and Providencia Elementary performed and helped ring in the holidays with upbeat music including Meyer’s “Bach Country Fiddles” which Meyer conducted, and “Winter Wonderland” featuring Helms.

Academy Award-Winning Composer and ETM-LA Advisory Board Member Michael Giacchino (Disney-Pixar’s Up) led the live auction and surprised the audience with a chance to attend a screening of the upcoming film he scored, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, with musicians from his recording orchestra, as well as a handwritten score page of the main theme.

Now in its 11th year, Lanier shared that ETM-LA has grown from serving 2 schools and 800 children its first year, to 25 schools and nearly 12,000 students. In the next few years, ETM-LA hopes to double the number of partner schools receiving sequential, comprehensive music instruction – from 25 to 50 schools. ETM-LA believes every child deserves a well-rounded education that includes music and the arts.

Other notables in attendance included actresses Karen David and Kate Flannery, composers Christophe Beck, John Debney, Joseph Trapanese, Jim Dooley, Rob Duncan, Blake Neely, Austin Wintory, Danny Jacob, Dave Porter, and David Vanacore. The event chairs were Lola Debney and Alecia Spendlove.

Honorary Chairs included music education champions and celebrities such as Adam Levine, Amanda Seyfried, Billy Crystal, Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Zach Galifianakis, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Chris Meledandri, Rickey Minor, and Sarah Silverman. Major event sponsors included: Amazon Studios, ASCAP, The Bluegrass Situation, BMI, BTW Productions, The Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency, Inc., Illumination Entertainment, MTV, Pacific Electric Picture Co., Paramount Pictures, Principato-Young Entertainment, Schrek Rose Dapello & Adams LLP, Sonic Fuel Studios, and United Talent Agency.

Education Through Music-LA is an independent 501c3 non-profit with the mission to provide music in disadvantaged schools to enhance students’ academic achievement and creative and overall development. ETM-LA partners with inner-city schools to provide yearlong music instruction and is based on the ETM model (New York, 1991).

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