Press Release

New West Symphony

Ross Goldberg FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 10, 2017
(818) 597 - 8453




Sheridan Way Elementary School Principal Maria Elizarraras Honored by the New West Symphony


(THOUSAND OAKS) – April 10, 2017 --Maria Elizarraras, principal of Sheridan Way Elementary School in Ventura, has been named the 2017 recipient of the New West Symphony’s Sandra Laby Memorial Award.  The award annually honors a student, educator or community leader who through their work with the Symphony’s Harmony Project of Ventura County is making the world a better place through music.


Elizarraras is one of the main reasons the Harmony Project in Ventura exists and her commitment has positively impacted many young lives in the county. In 2011, Elizarraras advocated for Harmony Project to begin at Sheridan Way Elementary, a Title I school where 100% of students receive free or reduced lunch and approximately one out of six children are homeless. She opened the doors of the school, coordinated classroom use and encouraged families to get involved. Elizarraras has also represented Harmony Project in school district and school board meetings, helping build a relationship between the Symphony and Ventura Unified School District. 


The Sandra Laby Memorial Award is named after Harmony Project of Ventura County founder Sandra Laby and is designed to embody the values and vision of Laby who believed that “there is a kernel waiting inside a person, a child, -- a person needing to be given a chance, an opportunity.  Give it.  Then let it germinate.  Do it locally so you can be present to nurture it, allowing it to grow into something special and unusual.  To put value on kids, to give self worth and an opportunity to express it means an enormous amount in focusing their lives in a new positive direction. It affects the child, the family and the community." 


The New West Symphony’s Harmony Project provides families in Ventura County opportunities to participate in music – from seeing the orchestra perform live in concert to putting instruments directly into the hands of children for free and giving them the structured support needed to thrive.  The Project currently serves 150 students from Title 1 schools in Ventura from third grade through high school graduation.


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.  The Symphony 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 County,  More information is available at or follow us on Facebook at


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