Dear Friends,

I hope your new year has been off to a safe and healthy start, and that you are finding moments of solace and respite as we all continue to navigate the challenges and uncertainties of the pandemic. So far this season, as Music and Artistic Director of the New West Symphony, I have presented three virtual mini-festivals A Tour of Japan, A Tour of India, and Holocaust Remembrance that have highlighted the music, cultures and family traditions throughout Greater Los Angeles, while emphasizing connections with orchestra repertoire. These are all digital concerts, paired with engaging complementary content, which premiered on scheduled dates and have remained available to watch on-demand to concert passport holders. In addition to NWS’s concerts, our mini-festivals have included exclusive interviews with artists and cultural experts, engaging pre-concert talks about the music, and more. Coming up next is A Tour of China.

Additionally, on Friday and Saturday, February 19 & 20, 2021, I will lead the San Antonio Symphony in its second set of live performances for in-person audiences at the Tobin Center since March 2020. There will be a significantly reduced audience capacity under current protocols recommended by government and medical professionals. The program is called “Morning, Noon and Night,” featuring Haydn's Symphony No. 6 “Morning”; Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (arr. Schönberg); and Schönberg's Verklärte Nacht. The concerts will be broadcast digitally, available to watch for a donation of $21, which can be made by clicking here.
A Tour of China
February 25-28, 2021
A Tour of China is a celebration of Chinese New Year and the Spring Lantern Festival. Our four-day cultural festival culminates with a symphony concert on Sunday, February 28, 2021 at 3pm PST. Featured performers include the world’s premier Pipa virtuoso and leading ambassador of Chinese music, Wu Man; multi-Grammy-winning soprano Sasha Cooke; and a master of erhu, Hong Wang. The performance includes music of Wu Man, Tan Dun, Mahler, Beethoven and traditional arrangements for orchestra – Hua Yanjun’s “Ah Bing” / Wu Ziqiang’s “Moon Reflecting in the Second Spring.”
Along with the symphony concert, Season and Concert Passport holders can enjoy access to these companion cultural festival programs for further immersion into the music, the artistry, and the culture that inspired the concert.

Thursday, February 25th, 2021 | 6pm PST – Pre-Concert Talk with David Ravetch
An informative, audience-friendly Zoom presentation from UCLA Senior Lecturer David Ravetch discussing the music to be presented on the Sunday, February 28 A Tour of China program.
Friday, February 26th, 2021 | 7pm PST – Culture Insights
A program offering insights into contributions made by Chinese Americans to California’s culture featuring demonstrations of traditional instruments, and discussions about history, arts and music with partner organizations Conejo Chinese Cultural Association, the Camarillo Kung Fu and Lion Dance Association, and the Pacific Pearl Music Association.
Saturday, February 27th, 2021 | 7pm PST – Meet the Artists
Interviews with pipa virtuoso and leading ambassador of Chinese music Wu Man, Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, and erhu master Hong Wang. Performances to include Dance of the Golden Dragon 金蛇狂舞and The Red River in the Sunset 傍晚的红河 by Wu Man and Hong Wang.

I will be available to answer questions in the live chat during each program. In addition to each initial live-streamed event, all programs will be available on-demand to passport holders shortly after the initial broadcast ends.

A Tour of China is presented in partnership with the Conejo Chinese Cultural Association, the Camarillo Kung Fu and Lion Dance Association, and the Pacific Pearl Music Association.
Recent New West Symphony Mini-Festivals
A Tour of Japan
October 15-18, 2020
The opening festival in October 2020, A Tour of Japan, featured Los Angeles-based violinist Anne Akiko Meyers performing the Bach Concerto for Two Violins in D minor with New West Symphony concertmaster Alyssa Park and over 20 NWS musicians. It also included music by Michio Miyagi, Toru Takemitsu, Shinichi Yuize, Schubert, Beethoven, and Mozart, plus performances by Pasadena-based Makoto Taiko, a Japanese drum ensemble; San Diego-based koto performer Reiko Obata; and pianist Benjamin Krasner. The program was inspired by Japanese educator and musician Shinichi Suzuki, who founded the Suzuki Method of teaching music, combined with the mesmerizing sounds of Japanese traditional music and music from Japan over recent decades.

Additional cultural events included interviews and performances with Anne Akiko Meyers, Reiko Obata, and Hunter Loyd, presented from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in the Reagans’ private quarters, and in front of Air Force One.
A Tour of India
November 12-15, 2020
In November 2020, A Tour of India explored the influences that Indian and western classical musical traditions have upon each other. It was presented in collaboration with LA based composer Reena Esmail, UCLA’s Rahul Neuman, Hindustani soprano Saili Oak, and internationally renowned tenor Sean Panikkar, and featured music by Philip Glass, Elgar, Debussy, Reena Esmail, Shane Cook, and Turina. Coinciding with the Indian holiday of Diwali, the concert program included an interview with Anaheim city Mayor Harry Singh Sidhu who discussed his experience as an Indian-American elected official and the only current Indian-American mayor in California.

A highlight of the additional cultural events for A Tour of India was a presentation on the origins of yoga, with demonstrations of asanas and mudras originating from Bharatanatayam, the oldest classical dance tradition in India. The program concluded with a performance by Arun Mathai, a professionally trained Bharatanatayam dancer accompanied by violinist Kiran Athreya.

We recorded our Japan and India events on the stage at our regular hall Kalvi Theater at the Bank of America Performing Arts Center in Thousand Oaks, CA as well as outdoors at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA, the regional home of New West Symphony.
Holocaust Remembrance
January 25-31, 2021
Pivoting to a smaller-scale production due to increased COVID-19 precautions and restrictions in our local area in January, the Holocaust Remembrance festival culminated in a chamber music program with NWS orchestra members and a recorded performance from the renowned Jerusalem Quartet. The musicians presented an array of music illuminating vast stylistic and cultural treasures of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and today, with works by Erwin Schulhoff, Brahms, John Williams, Wladyslaw Szpilman, Mieczslaw Weinberg, and Béla Kovács.

Coinciding with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the festival began on Wednesday January 27, 2021 with a cultural program featuring interviews with Celina Biniaz, the youngest of Schindler’s List survivors and the Violins of Hope Los Angeles Chair Susanne Reyto, along with a showing of a Violins of Hope documentary.
New West Symphony Upcoming Concerts
Program details will be released four weeks prior to the streaming dates at

A Tour of Iran 
Sunday, April 11, 2021, 3pm PT

A Tour of Mexico
Sunday, May 2, 2021, 3pm PT

A Tour of South Korea
Sunday, June 13, 2021, 3pm PT
I am so proud of my New West Symphony family for taking on the challenges of the past year with such energy and willingness. I am also grateful and proud of my own family; my wife Alexis, a physician in the ICU treating COVID and non-COVID patients, and my two children who have inspired, frustrated and delighted us as the world has thrown all of these challenges before us.

I hope you're able to join me virtually for this season of performances, and I very much look forward to seeing you again in person.

All the best,
Ron Merlino, MusicVine
646*825*9585 |

Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists
646*536*7864 |