Press Release

Contact: Rebecca Madigan      For Immediate Release  November 2, 2017
805-435-2779       Photos Included


(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – November 2, 2017) —  The New West Symphony will be celebrating Leonard Bernstein's 100th birthday with unique concerts in November featuring Bernstein's long-time protégé and collaborator, Maestro John Mauceri. Before serving as founding director for the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Mr. Mauceri worked closely with Mr. Bernstein for 18 years, conducting many of the composer's premieres at Bernstein's request. This concert, developed in partnership with the New West Symphony and Valley Performing Arts Center, features Bernstein's stage works, and Mr. Mauceri will share many personal anecdotes from their time together.

The New West Symphony orchestra will perform well-known pieces from West Side Story, Candide, On the Town, and Mass, among others. The star-studded cast of singers includes Phantom of the Opera star Davis Gaines, soprano Celena Shafer, mezzo-soprano Suzanna Guzmán, tenor Casey Candebat, the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles and the Women of Cal Lutheran University Choral Ensembles.

Performances are Friday, November 17, at the Valley Performing Arts Center; Saturday, November 18, at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza; and Sunday, November 19, at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center.

John Mauceri – guest conductor
John Mauceri, world-renowned conductor, writer, and educator, has appeared with the world's greatest opera companies and symphony orchestras, and on the musical stages of Broadway and Hollywood, as well as at the most prestigious halls of academia. He remains the conductor with the longest musical relationship with Leonard Bernstein, having edited, assisted, and conducted his works—with the composer present—in Vienna, Tel Aviv, London, Paris, Glasgow, Milan, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He also performed at the composer's 60th and 70th birthday galas.

He is the founding director of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, which was created for him in 1991 by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. Mr. Mauceri is one of the world's most accomplished recording artists, having released over 70 audio CDs, and is the recipient of GRAMMY, Tony, Olivier, Drama Desk, Billboard, Edison Klassiek, Emmy, Diapason d'Or, Cannes Classique, ECHO Klassik, and Deutsche Schallplatten awards. More information can be found at:

Celena Shafer – soprano
After two summers as an apprentice at the Santa Fe Opera, soprano Celena Shafer's career was launched to critical raves as Ismene in Mozart's Mitridate, re di Ponto.  Anne Midgette of the New York Times wrote, "It takes the debutante Celena Shafer, an alumna of the apprentice program here, to show how it should be done, singing the Oriental princess Ismene with flair, vocal balance and great cadenzas."  Since that breakthrough debut, Ms. Shafer has garnered acclaim for her silvery voice, fearlessly committed acting and phenomenal technique.  She spends much of her time on the concert stage and has appeared with orchestras in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Los Angeles with leading conductors such as Christoph von Dohnanyi, Alan Gilbert, Bernard Labadie, Robert Spano, Nicholas McGegan, Kent Nagano, Donald Runnicles, Michael Tilson Thomas, David Robertson and Sir Andrew Davis. More information can be found at:

Suzanna Guzmán – mezzo-soprano
Actor, TV/radio host and mezzo-soprano, Suzanna Guzmán has appeared as a principal soloist with orchestras and opera houses around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera, Dallas Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Opera de Genéve and San Diego Opera. Known for her portrayal of the title role in Bizet's Carmen ("Fire-breathing actress, devastatingly sexy." TIME), she is also a champion of new music; most recently she appeared in The Industry's acclaimed Hopscotch, the mobile opera. She has premiered in lead roles in works by Michael Nyman, Daniel Catán, Giancarlo Menotti, Ian Krouse, and recently as the Mother in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking"Guzmán came across as so authentic, it transcended the artificiality of the theatrical experience. Everything seemed to melt away: the moment danced between sobering and exhilarating (The Fresno Bee)." More information can be found at:

Casey Candebat – tenor
Casey Candebat, a native of New Orleans, has been hailed by the LA Times as having "the big, straightforward Italian sound," and by the San Francisco Chronicle as being one of the up-and-coming stars of opera. A recent two-time participant in San Francisco Opera's illustrious Merola Opera Program, Mr. Candebat performed the role of Il Podestà in Mozart's La finta giardinera, covered the role of Mr. Owen in Argento's Postcard from Morocco, and sang scenes from Werther and La rondine to high acclaim on the Merola Grande Finale. He returned to Merola Opera in 2014 to perform the role of Mitch in Andre Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire and a highly acclaimed scene from Mascagni's L'amico Fritz. Recently, Mr. Candebat has been heard as Georg in Der Vampyr with New Orleans Opera and Mitch in Streetcar with Opera Grand Rapids. He was also featured in New Orleans Opera's productions of Salome, Madama Butterfly, Rigoletto, Il trittico, Manon Lescaut, La bohème, and Turandot. More information can be found at:

Davis Gaines - baritone
Davis Gaines performed the title role in Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera more than 2,000 times during his run on Broadway, in Los Angeles (LA's longest-running Phantom) and in San Francisco (Bay Area Critics' Award for Best Actor). Other Broadway and National Tour credits include the world premiere of Lloyd Webber's Whistle Down the Wind, Cornelius Hackl in Hello, Dolly! (with Carol Channing), Camelot (with Richard Burton) and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (with Alexis Smith).  More information can be found at

Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles – Joe Nadeau, conductor
For over 37 years, the Chorus has built an international reputation for musical excellence while remaining deeply rooted in service to the Los Angeles community. Hailed by the LA Times as "one of the last important links to a glorious tradition in music," GMCLA has more than doubled in size to over 250 total singers, added professional and artistic staff, toured nationally and internationally, released fifteen CDs, commissioned more than 300 new works and arrangements, and appeared frequently on national television. The Chorus membership donates over 60,000 volunteer hours annually to make GMCLA's mission of musical excellence and community partnership a reality. More information can be found at:

Women of CLU Choral Ensembles – Wyant Morton, conductor
The Cal Lutheran University Choral Ensembles includes the Cal Lutheran University Choir, Women's Chorale, and Areté Vocal Ensemble. The Cal Lutheran University Choir and Women's Chorale are the premiere undergraduate choral ensembles at CLU. The ensembles have earned an enviable reputation in their home state and throughout the Western United States for their commitment to performing the finest in choral literature from all eras in their original languages. While dedicated to performing works that represent the University's Lutheran heritage, the choirs also embrace innovative new music as well as music expressing a multicultural perspective.  Rounding out the Cal Lutheran Choral Ensembles is Areté Vocal Ensemble, an innovative ensemble of vocal artists founded by Wyant Morton in 2009. The singers include Cal Lutheran students, alumni, faculty, and other professional-level singers in the Thousand Oaks area — all of whom perform with energy, passion, expertise, and virtuosity. More information can be found at:

Concert Dates, Times and Venues
Friday, November 17, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. – Valley Performing Arts Center on the campus of CSUN
Saturday, November 18, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. – Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza
Sunday, November 19, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. – Oxnard Performing Arts Center

Tickets are priced $30 - $120.
For  the Friday performance, tickets can be purchased at
For Saturday and Sunday performances, tickets can be purchased at
Full program notes can be found at

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 and the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza.  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

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