Ode to Joy


Performances November 19-20th, 2022 

Thousand Oaks, Camarillo 


Eileen Roberts

Thousand Oaks, CA – How do you connect India, Germany, and California, musically speaking? New West Symphony offers a unique and uplifting answer with Ode to Joy, in its final performances for the 2021/2022 Masterpiece Series, presented November 19 and 20 in Thousand Oaks and Camarillo. Billed as “a celebration of unity” by Artistic and Music Director Michael Christie, Ode to Joy continues the Symphony’s tradition of honoring timeless classics while highlighting newer works. 

The former is Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, among the most treasured of all classical works by one of music’s greatest and most prolific composers. The latter is Meri Sakhi Ki Avaaz (My Sister’s Voice) by one of classical music’s newest and brightest stars, Los Angeles-based Indian-American composer Reena Esmail. 

“Together, these works explore themes of human connection beyond borders and the passage of time, and embrace New West Symphony’s adventurous spirit in presenting music that is as thought-provoking as it is engaging and celebratory,” says Christie. 

About “My Sister’s Voice”: 

Opening the program is Meri Sakhi Ki Avaaz (My Sister’s Voice), composed in 2018 and which, “at its core, is a song about sisterhood,” says Christie. “Each of the three movements’ short texts epitomizes one of the many facet of having and being a sister.” 

The movements begin with a modern take of Delibes’ “Flower Duet” from the opera Lakme; proceed to a classical Hindustani bandish (fixed composition); and conclude with a “mirrors and opposites” third movement, encompassing both “light and sweet” and “dark and heavy.” 

The work’s composer, Reena Esmail, is the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s current Swan Family Artist-in-Residence with a wide array of glowing reviews for her unique creations that blend Indian and Western classical music. Raised in Studio City and a graduate of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Esmail earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in composition from Juilliard and Yale’s School of Music. She is the artistic director of Shastra, a non-profit organization that promotes cross-cultural music collaboration between the music tradition of India and the West. 

Joining New West Symphony for Meri Sakhi Ki Avaaz is Hindustani soprano Saili Oak, a native of Mumbai who has previously performed with New West Symphony, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and numerous ensembles around the world. She is also programs director for Shastra.  

About Symphony No. 9: 

It is now 200 years since Beethoven began two years of work on his Ninth and final symphony, completing it just three years before his death. Remarkably, notes Christie, “one of the most famous melodies of all time actually gave Beethoven an enormous amount of trouble. There are dozens of version of its final bars in his sketchbooks!” 

While music audiences (classical and beyond) are undoubtedly familiar with its rousing finale, Symphony No. 9 in fact has three preceding movements, that in collaboration with the fourth, “serve to mark some of mankind’s most triumphant, sublime, and vile moments and personalities with equal effect” says Christie. “Such is the beguiling genius of this pinnacle work of the Western musical repertory.” 

Premiering to great acclaim in Vienna on May 7, 1824, the composition forever established the choral symphony as an integral part of classical music. So profound was its influence that noted 19th century Danish composer Niels Gade stopped writing symphonies after completing his eighth, reportedly telling an interview, “There in only one Ninth.” 

New West Symphony’s presentation of Ode to Joy will feature a quartet of highly acclaimed  soloists: soprano Ann Toomey, mezzo soprano Courtney Jameson, tenor Casey Candebat, and baritone Craig Irvin, all of whom have performed challenging operatic and solo works throughout the US and the world.  

They will be joined by several local choral ensembles: the Pepperdine Concert and Chamber Choirs from Malibu, directed by Ryan Board, and the Areté Symphonic Choir from Thousand Oaks, directed by Wyant Morton.  

Additionally, pre-concert “Hear and Now” talks (6:30PM in Thousand Oaks, 2:00PM in Camarillo), and “Intermission Insights,” featuring composer Reena Esmail and soprano Saili Oak in conversation with Michael Christie, will be offered at both concerts. “Hear and Now” and “Intermission Insights” are part of New West Symphony’s ongoing commitment to educate and enrich its audience, and to enhance the accessibility of the music and its performers.  

Ode to Joy Tickets & Information 

Starting at $35[Text Wrapping Break] 


Dates & Venues 

November 19, 2022, 7:30pm | Thousand Oaks 

Kavli Theatre, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Center  

2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362 

 November 20, 2022, 3:00pm | Camarillo 

Rancho Campana Performing Arts Center  

4235 Mar Vista Dr., Camarillo, CA 93010 


About the New West Symphony  

Now in its 27th season, the New West Symphony draws its players from the rich talent pool of  accomplished Los Angeles-area musicians.  During this season, New West Symphony will present programs ranging from the familiar melodies of Hollywoods Silver Screen and the Great American Songbook, to the pinnacle of symphonic masterworks, Beethovens beloved Ninth Symphony. The season features New West Symphony premiere performances of works by four American women composers: Joan Towers Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman, Jessie Montgomerys Strum, Reena Esmails Meri Sakhi Ki Avaaz (My Sisters Voice), and a world premiere collaborative performance of Pauline Frechettes Tales of Winter. Among other works are Dvořáks Suite in A Major, American,” SibeliusThird Symphony; Mozarts Jupiter” Symphony; and selections from Scott Joplins Treemonisha as well as music by Vivaldi, Vaughan Williams, Bottesini and Korngold. 

About Michael Christie 

 Named Artistic and Music Director of the New West Symphony in December 2018, GRAMMY® Award-winning conductor Michael Christie is a thoughtfully innovative conductor, equally at home in the symphonic and opera worlds, who is focused on making the audience experience at his performances entertaining, enlightening, and enriching. Deeply committed to bringing new works to life, he has championed commissions by leading and emerging composers alike.

Christie has served as Music Director of the Phoenix Symphony (2005-2013) and Brooklyn Philharmonic (2005-2010), and as Chief Conductor of the Queensland Orchestra (2001-2004) in Australia. He has also guest conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Rhode Island Philharmonic, and the Symphonies of Dallas, St. Louis, Atlanta, Houston, Minnesota, Oregon, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Santa Rosa. European engagements have included leading the Rotterdam Philharmonic, DSO Berlin, Orchestre National de Lille, Swedish and Netherlands Radio Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony, NDR Hannover Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic. Christie also enjoys a strong profile in Australia, where he has conducted the Sydney Symphony, Tasmanian Symphony, Opera Queensland, and the Western Australian Symphony in Perth. 

For further information, visit and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.