The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District will present the 63rd Annual Stairway of the Stars at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, March 22 and 23 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1855 Main St.

The event spotlights the talents of the district’s music students, teachers, and music curriculum.

This year, 26 bands, orchestras, and choirs will perform, with approximately 1,000 students involved in the event. The guest conductor for the 2012 Stairway of the Stars will be Tom Cole. Cole has been a music educator in the Poway Unified School District since 1975 and recently retired from Rancho Bernardo High School in June 2010.

As part of the event each year, the district’s 23 music teachers nominate and vote on the “Stairway Honor Award Recipient,” which is presented to a former student, teacher, or person who has achieved a level of success in the arts or who has contributed significantly to the advancement of music and arts education in the district.

This year, the 2012 Stairway Honor Award recipient will be Chandra Narain, who has served the district for almost 23 years. She has spent most of her career with the district’s Visual and Performing Arts Department and currently works in Education Services as an administrative assistant specializing in the Visual and Performing Arts Department.

She has helped support the elementary music department, visual art departments, theatre and dance at all school sites, a district spokesperson said.

Ensembles performing at Stairway of the Stars this year include the all-district elementary honor orchestra, choir, and band; high school jazz ensemble; as well as the middle and high school orchestras, choirs, and bands. Some of the musical selections will include: “Shenandoah,” “Symphonic Dances, Mvt. 5, Belly Dance,” “Capriccio Espagnal,” and “Sing, Sang, Sung.”

All elementary honor groups, middle and high school bands and the jazz band will perform both March 22 and 23. The middle and high school choirs will perform March 23 only, while the middle and high school orchestras will perform March 22 only.

Tickets are $15. Ticket sales to the general public begin at 5:30 p.m. both days at the Civic Center box office.