Press Release

New West Symphony

Emma Pell FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 6, 2016
(805) 435-2778




Star-Studded Recital to Raise Funds for the New West Symphony and its Music Education Programs


(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – September 6, 2016) — The New West Symphony League, in conjunction with NWS Founding Board member Nancy Israel, will host a star-studded recital and dinner on Saturday, September 24 at California Lutheran University to raise funds for the Symphony and its music education programs. Featured performers will include Christopher O’Riley from NPR’s “From the Top,” Van Cliburn Crystal award winner Sean Chen, Broadway duo Diane Ketchie and Ray Saar, award-winning pianist Edward Francis, violinist Danielle Belen, and NWS’s Principal Flute Paul Fried.


This event is the 15th, and likely final, in a series of “Israel Recitals” which were conceived by Bill Israel in 1999 after brushing up on his piano skills at the age of 82. The 14 recitals held since that time have raised over $2.5 million for the New West Symphony and its many education programs. This recital will honor what would have been Bill’s 100th Birthday.


“This recital is very important to me personally because it keeps my husband’s memory alive while continuing to support the Symphony that Bill loved so much” said event host Nancy Israel. “The New West Symphony is a treasure and I hope that this recital will introduce new community members to this wonderful organization that was such a part of Bill’s life and is still such an important part of mine.”


O’Riley is an acclaimed concert pianist praised for his engaging and deeply committed performances. He is known to millions as the host of NPR’s “From the Top,” a radio program dedicated to showcasing the music, stories, and unique humor of America's best young classical musicians. He performs around the world and has garnered widespread praise for his untiring efforts to reach new audiences.


Chen is a Conejo Valley native and was a NWS Discovery Artist before becoming internationally known.

In 2013, Chen won the American Pianists Association's DeHaan Classical Fellowship and the Crystal Award at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. He has been hailed by the Dallas Morning News as a rising star with a "million-volt smile" and a "formidable set of fingers.”


Ketchie and Saar met, fell in love and got married while starring together in The Phantom of the Opera. Ketchie is a classically trained singer and pianist who has appeared everywhere from Carnegie Hall to starring roles with major opera companies. Saar has performed starring roles on Broadway and has had the distinction of singing a command performance at the White House. Today they combine their unique and diverse talents in critically acclaimed performances in their show “The Best of Broadway.”


Francis leads a versatile career in music as a pianist, educator, administrator, and arts advocate. As an avid music educator, Francis holds teaching positions at Pepperdine University, Moorpark College and California State University Northridge and frequently teaches clinics and masterclasses.


Belen is an associate professor and full-time violin faculty at the University of Michigan School of Music. Belen was formerly the Concertmaster of the NWS and has appeared as a soloist with major symphonies across the country, including the Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Nashville and San Francisco Symphonies, the Boston Pops, and the Florida and Cleveland Orchestras.


Fried is widely regarded as one the world’s foremost flutists. He is an internationally acclaimed soloist and recording artist and he has been Principal Flute for the New West Symphony since 1995. Fried has 10 solo recordings and can be heard in over 200 film scores including Die Hard, Anastasia, Ice Age, War of the Roses, and many others.


The fundraiser will begin with dinner at 5:30pm at the Lundring Events Center at CLU and the recital will take place at 8:00pm in the Samuelson. Ticket prices range from $25 for general admission to $300 for VIP reserved recital seats, a multi-course meal, and access to a celebrity reception where guests can mingle with the performers and enjoy wine and horse d’oeuvres. $45 tickets are available for general admission floor seating and $100 tickets are available for VIP reserved seating for the recital and celebrity reception. Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling the New West Symphony at (805) 497-5800.



About the New West Symphony

Founded in 1995, the New West Symphony is a professional orchestra that draws its players from the rich talent pool of professional Los Angeles-area musicians. The Symphony is the resident company of the Oxnard Performing Arts Center, the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, and Barnum Hall in Santa Monica.  It presents six Masterpiece Series concerts annually, performing major works from the symphonic repertoire with internationally-acclaimed artists as guest soloists.  It also provides quality outreach and educational opportunities for the communities it serves through its annual Symphonic Adventures concert programs for youth, its traveling Music Van, and its New West Symphony Harmony Project of Ventura. More information is available at or follow us on Facebook at