PB Palooza fundraiser to support Pacific Beach Middle School’s music program

Pacific Beach Middle School Concert Band and Orchestra members with director John O’Donnell at “Music in the Parks” festival.
Pacific Beach Middle School Concert Band and Orchestra members, with director John O’Donnell, at the May 20 “Music in the Parks” festival in Glendale. Both groups earned superior ratings and the “Best Overall Middle School Band” award.
(Angela Bencke)

The event is set for Sept. 17 at the San Diego Mission Bay Boat & Ski Club


An afternoon of food, fun and music is in store for attendees of PB Palooza, an annual fundraiser to support Pacific Beach Middle School’s music program.

It is set for 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17 at the San Diego Mission Bay Boat & Ski Club. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for youths.

PB Palooza will feature performances by local musical talent. Scheduled are the Eric Wesling Trio, Josie and Friends, the Mission Bay High School Preservationists, Taconacho/DrMr and School of Rock-House Band.

“A unique feature of PB Palooza is that we really showcase musical talent from PB schools,” said PBMS Music Association President Angela Bencke. “Each musical group has a direct connection to our Pacific Beach schools’ music programs.”

Want to go?

PB Palooza

When: 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17

Where: San Diego Mission Bay Boat & Ski Club, 2606 N. Mission Bay Drive.

Tickets: $10 for adults, $5 for students. Buy in advance at

Bencke said the award-winning Preservationists from Mission Bay High consists of current students, while the other groups have members that are former PB music program students.

“These groups have returned to perform and support our annual middle school’s music program fundraiser, PB Palooza,” she said.

According to John O’Donnell, the band director at PB Middle School, the nonprofit PBMS Music Association was established in 2016 to provide essential support to the music program. It involves around 210 students among its six instrumental ensembles. They are sixth-grade strings, sixth-grade band, intermediate strings, intermediate band, orchestra and concert band.

The PBMS music program builds on the music traditions of Crown Point Junior Music Academy, Pacific Beach Elementary School and Barnard Mandarin Magnet Elementary School to provide all students an opportunity to explore music prior to high school, he said. The advanced band and orchestra students perform in the community throughout the year and compete with other school music programs.

In May the program earned two first-place trophies at the “Music in the Parks” competition in Glendale. Bencke said the association helped with registration and transportation expenses so 48 student musicians could compete in the festival that drew instrumental music ensembles from around Southern California.

“Both the band and the orchestra received superior ratings (of 92 and 90 respectively),” O’Donnell said.

In addition, the concert band was named “Best Overall Middle School Band.”

Cash K. Kalauli-Martin holding the school’s first-place trophies after winning the “Music in the Parks competition”
Cash K. Kalauli-Martin, a percussionist with Pacific Beach Middle School Concert Band, holding the school’s first-place trophies after winning the “Music in the Parks competition” in May.
(Angela Bencke)

“The students were thrilled with the incredible honors the band and orchestra members earned last May,” Bencke said. “Our volunteer parent organization works all year to support the needs of our middle school music program. Our fundraisers result in direct and tangible support for our music program, be it sheet music, instruments for kids, festival registration or transportation costs. We are all about supporting our middle school students making music.”

Bencke said all proceeds from the Sept. 17 fundraiser will go toward providing resources that support the program’s many varied needs.

“We buy new instruments for kids, repair instruments and buy sheet music and online learning resources for students,” she said. “In some cases we will fund music lessons for a student playing a specialized instrument such as an oboe.”

“Our music association provides countless little, but important, recurring supply needs: reeds, strings, valve oil and screws,” O’Donnell said. “Frankly, a director cannot develop a successful clarinet player when they are not able to provide a new reed when an old reed breaks. It’s like having a math class with no pencil sharpener.”