Summerfest 2024 Entertainment and Honorees Biographies

ENTERTAINMENT

Jason Scheff

Jason Scheff
New West Symphony Artistic Ambassador

Without missing a beat, Jason stepped into Chicago with the mega-hit “Will You Still Love Me” in 1986 and never looked back. He composed several original hit songs (“What Kind of Man Would I Be?” and “Heart of Mine”), and is the longest vocalist/bassist in the band’s history. He continues to perform and record with artists such as Todd Rundgren, Christopher Cross, Robbie Krieger (The Doors), Alex Lifeson (Rush), Tommy Thayer (KISS), Bill Champlin, and Jay DeMarcus (Rascal Flats) to name a few. He has also recorded as a solo artist.

Steve Porcaro

Steve Porcaro

As a founding member of the Grammy winning, platinum-selling rock band Toto, songwriter/keyboardist Steve Porcaro had huge pop hits with “Hold the Line,” “Rosanna,” and “Make Believe.” He also co-wrote “Human Nature” on Michael Jackson’s 30 million-selling Thriller album. Other members of the band were his brothers Jeff Porcaro and Mike Porcaro, David Paich, David Hungate, Steve Luthaker, Bobby Kimball, Fergie Fredericksen, and Joseph Williams. Toto also became in-demand session musicians, playing on numerous records.

Rick Cowling

Rick Cowling

Originally from Nebraska, Rick Cowling moved to California in 1987. A musician, singer, and music producer, Cowling played guitar for Kenny Loggins from 2007-2009, and is currently his bass player. He played Keyboards, Guitar and Vocals for Ambrosia from 2009 til 2013.

He produces a lot of radio spots, music for TV, and music for other artists, like Bobby Womack, Harold Payne, Bonnie Raitt, Laura Brannigan, Melissa Manchester, among others!

Phil X

Phil X

Hailing from Toronto, Canada where it all began, Phil X started out like a lot of teenagers with a guitar in their hands and dreams of the big time.

Well… although it took a REALLY REALLY long time, it happened. On April 14, 2011 Jon Bon Jovi contacted Phil to prepare for the possibility of standing in for Richie Sambora for the BON JOVI tour in progress. Even Phil didn’t think this was possible but it happened. TWICE. After the second time filling in for Sambora in 2013, Phil stayed on and has been the guitar player for BON JOVI ever since. After over 200+ shows, Phil claims he still gets goosebumps kicking into Livin’ On A Prayer calling it not only an important song of his youth, but one of the best Rock songs ever written.

Aside from pioneering the “guitar influencer” phenomenon, Phil had become one of the top session players in LA with his background in songwriting and freakish knack for coming up with unimaginable overdub parts on the spot. It all started with Tommy Lee’s Methods of Mayhem in 1999 to Rob Zombie to Rob telling Alice Cooper “You gotta use this guy on your new record” leading to Phil’s notorious “crazy guitars” on Brutal Planet produced by Bob Marlett. Phil went on to record with Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson, Daughtry, Chis Cornell, Halestorm, Apocolyptica… not to mention (still name dropping) Stewart Copeland, Perry Ferrel, Edgar Winter, a Smokey Robinson/Steven Tyler duet…. and many many more.

Phil X

Sherry Hursey

Sherry has an extensive list of credits spanning from stage to screen, but may be most recognized for her role as Al’s fiancée, Ilene, on the long running ABC series Home Improvement, or Kirsten Dunst’s mom in the Universal box office hit, Bring It On. Diehard fans still remember her as Paula Carson on Days of Our Lives or Murray’s daughter, on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Sherry has also enjoyed working as a voice artist, allowing her to utilize her diverse voice talents. She is proud to be a member of and still “barking” with the renowned L.A. MadDogs ADR group and can be heard in many of Hollywood’s biggest block buster movies including: Shrek, Madagascar, Freaky Friday, Polar Express, The Game Plan, Monsters vs Aliens, Penguins of Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda 3 to name a few. Sherry’s stage credits have honored her with New York’s Outer Critics Circle Award and Drama Logue awards. Creating the original role of the sweetheart, Sherry made her New York debut in William Finn’s In Trousers and joined the original cast of the hit, Beehive, a 60’s rock & roll musical.

HONOREES

Michael Christie

Michael Christie
New West Symphony Artistic and Music Director

Michael Christie is a thoughtfully innovative conductor, equally at home in the symphonic and opera worlds, who is focused on making the audience’s experience at his performances entertaining, enlightening, and enriching. Michael won a 2019 GRAMMY® Award (Best Opera Recording) for the world premiere recording of Mason Bates’ The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs with the Santa Fe Opera (PENTATONE). Deeply committed to bringing new works to life, Michael has championed commissions by leading and emerging composers alike.

Michael, with a conducting career spanning over two decades, was appointed Artistic and Music Director for New West Symphony in 2018, debuting as conductor in its 25th season. As the New West Symphony’s 30th Anniversary Season approaches, it also celebrates Michael’s five-year tenure in the role. This year holds another milestone as Michael celebrates his 50th birthday.

Hope Rosenfeld

Hope Rosenfeld

Hope Miriam Berkelhammer Rosenfeld was born June 12, 1924 and has lived her life fueled by a lifelong passion for music, and her much loved and loving children, grandchildren and close friends. Almost from its inception, Hope focused the bulk of her time, expertise, and financial support to New West Symphony. She helped prepare meals for NWS orchestra member rehearsals, hosted events at her lovely home, opened her door to guest performers and conductors who needed a place to stay, served as president of the NWS League and much more. And, as she celebrates her 100th birthday, she continues to relish NWS performances that she attends faithfully. They are a gift that continues to bring her endless pleasure and for which she is forever grateful. | Read “100 Years of Hope” 

John Shwope and Karen Dean Fritts

John Shwope and Karen Dean Fritts

John Shwope and his wife Karen Dean Fritts have been ardent supporters of the New West Symphony since its inception and have both served on the Board of Directors, John for more than 20 years. They have watched and encouraged it to grow into what is now, a world-class organization. John is an active survivor and mentor with the local Cancer Support Community, an avid mountain biker and golfer. Karen is a PhD in Clinical Psychology and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for almost fifty years. They have resided in Thousand Oaks for more than 40 years and have 3 daughters and 6 grandchildren. New West Symphony honors John and Karen for their commitment to artistic and education programs.