The New West Symphony has an exciting season ahead of them with new audience engagement goals and a new Music Director. The symphony celebrates its 25th anniversary this year with the welcome addition of Grammy-winning conductor Michael Christie as the new Music Director. Six programs will be presented October through May on Saturdays at 7:30pm at Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks, CA, and Sundays at 3pm at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center in Oxnard, CA.
Christie aims to improve connections while celebrating the Symphony’s triumphs during his first season as Music Director, with two new options to enhance patron’s concert experience. The first option is called Intermission Insights, an on-stage interview between guest artists and Christie. The second is Entr'acte, a contemporary showcase presenting the work of diverse living composers, many of whom have strong ties to Los Angeles. Both new features offer guests an opportunity to connect more personally with performers while expanding the overall experience with emerging composition.
The season programming that Christie has chosen shows the Symphony’s desire to present an varied and appealing selection of works that will engage patrons with the LA based orchestral artists of the group as they perform with world-renowned guest soloists.
Christie says, “I’m very excited to start my tenure with the New West Symphony family and hope that my desire to connect with patrons and the broader community will be reflected strongly over this and coming years.”
Guest soloists this season include violinist Sarah Chang, who will perform Brahms’ majestic Violin Concerto; pianist Olga Kern, presenting Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3; the Eroica Trio, who are celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday by performing his Triple Concerto; Grammy-winning guitarist Jason Vieaux and bandoneón virtuoso Julien Labro, premiering a New West Symphony commission for guitar and bandoneón by Labro; and the Marcus Roberts Trio, which features notable jazz musicians of America.
Michael Christie has been described as a thoughtfully innovative conductor, comfortable in both the symphonic and opera worlds. He has a focus on enriching the audience experience while providing an entertaining experience. The New York Times reports, “Michael Christie is a director open to adventure and challenge,” and the Cincinnati Enquirer declares, “If Michael Christie represents the future of music in this country, the future looks promising indeed.”
Christie is a 2019 Grammy Award winner (Best Opera Recording) for the world premiere recording of Mason Bates’ The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs with The Santa Fe Opera. In 2017, the world premiere performances at The Santa Fe Opera were well lauded, with Christie’s leadership described as “ suave assurance” (San Francisco Chronicle), with “precision and pizzazz” (Santa Fe New Mexican), and “an expertly executed performance” (The Financial Times).
Michael Christie is deeply committed to bringing new works to life through commissions by leading and emerging composer including Mark Adamo, Mason Bates, Michael Daugherty, Osvaldo Golijov, Mark Grey, Daron Hagen, Huang Ruo, Matthew Hindson, Marjan Mozetich, Stephen Paulus, Kevin Puts, and more. In 2018, he led the world premiere of An American Soldier, a two-act opera by Huang Ruo, with Opera Theatre of St. Louis.
The New West Symphony was founded in 1995 and is composed of professional musicians from the Los Angeles area. The Symphony is the resident company of the Oxnard Performing Arts Center and the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, where it presents six Masterpiece Series concerts annually. The Symphony performs major works from the symphonic repertoire with internationally-acclaimed artists as featured guest soloists. The Symphony also provides quality outreach and educational opportunities for the communities it serves through its annual Symphonic Adventures concert programs for youth, the traveling Music Van, and the Laby Harmony Project, a year-round music and leadership program for underserved students.
25th Anniversary Season Highlights
Virtuoso soloists – Olga Kern, Sarah Chang, Jason Vieaux & Julien Labro, Eroica Trio, and jazz legend Marcus Roberts
Entr’acte – expanded programming with performances featuring contemporary classical music
World Premiere by Julien Labro for guitar and bandoneón – a New West Symphony commission
The Violins of Hope – restored Holocaust-era string instruments to be performed on Jonathan Leshnoff’s Symphony No. 4 “Heichalos”
Intermission Insights – on-stage interviews with Michael Christie
— Darby Swab