Spotlight on Jan D’Annunzio – Supporting PUSD’s Performing Arts

Jan D’Annunzio has been supporting Piedmont Unified’s performing arts programs from behind the scenes since 1999.  

unnamedWith a background in both public administration and music from Miami University in Ohio, Ms. D’Annunzio has been instrumental in nearly every aspect of these programs, from ensuring that the pianos are tuned to organizing and producing concerts and tours.  She takes great pride in the many ways students benefit from participating in the performing arts, and how these benefits apply in all aspects of life.

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What is your role in Piedmont Unified’s performing arts program?

I support most of the Piedmont Unified’s music programs.  I plan, produce and accompany concerts and tours, manage fundraising and program budgets, arrange for concert attire, coordinate instrument maintenance and repair, publicize events, run the box office, etc.  I used to help support the drama department, too, but all of these performing arts programs have grown so much over the past few years.  My focus now is choral and instrumental music at the middle and high school level.  I also accompany elementary and middle school string musicians on the piano.  I’ve never really wanted to be a performer, but I love to be an accompanist.

How many students participate in the performing arts?  

These programs are robust, with an extraordinary number of students participating.  This year, we have 491 middle and high school students in the music program alone.  This includes 138 students in four acappella classes in the high school.  Also at the high school, we have 53 students in symphonic band, 20 students in jazz band (which is selective and requires an audition), and 37 students in orchestra.  At the middle school, we have 158 students in five bands, and 85 students in orchestra.  These music programs have grown to meet the rising demand.  And that’s just music!  Students can study Shakespearean drama in middle school, and beginning, intermediate and advanced acting in high school.  Students can study dance and perform in musicals.  And we have both instrumental and choral music in the elementary schools, as well.

What do the performing arts offer students?  

Students learn lessons and skills that apply far beyond the arts.  They learn focus and discipline that will serve them well in anything they do.  They learn confidence and poise.  They learn that it’s OK to make mistakes — no one is perfect in music — and they learn how to recover from mistakes.  They learn to work as a group, and there’s great bonding and camaraderie that comes with being part of an ensemble.  Also, the arts enrich life.  Our students are developing a deep appreciation for the arts.

You have planned and produced countless concerts and performances.  Which are most memorable for you?  

The tours!  Over the years, the acappella group has traveled to China, Italy, Hungary, the UK, Germany, and New York City.  It’s tremendous work to manage these trips — and to ride the subway with 80 students — but the trips are wonderful.  The instrumental music group has traveled to Vancouver, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Diego.  They don’t go quite as far because it’s a little more challenging to travel with instruments.  This year, the bands are going to Hollywood and the orchestra is going to Disneyland.

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Piedmont Unified’s middle and high school performing arts departments consists of Catherine DeVos (instrumental music), Amy Moorhead (dance, musical theater), Andria Mullan (instrumental music), Joe Piazza (Acappella), Kim Taylor (drama), as well as Jan D’Annunzio.  Combined, they have 102 years of experience teaching and producing student performances.

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