Dear Friends,

I hope this newsletter finds you well and enjoying the last few weeks of winter. It's been an incredible season so far, with new experiences as Music Director of the New West Symphony and my debut at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Here are updates about all that, and what's still to come this season.
Recent Highlights
Our fall concerts at the New West Symphony, where I am now Music Director, have been an embarrassment of riches. Our first concert in October featured the Marcus Roberts Trio in Gershwin's Concerto in F, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, John Corigliano’s Salute, and, for our newly adopted Entr'acte initiative, Kevin Puts' …this noble company.
"25th Season Salute" at the New West Symphony
The Los Angeles Times gave a glowing account of this program:
"Christie began with kazoos, brought in the Marcus Roberts Trio to spice up Gershwin’s Concerto in F, and turned intermission into an imaginative entr’acte. But he overpowered all that came before with an original interpretation of Rimsky-Korsakov’s potboiler 'Scheherazade,' supplying far and away the most spectacular playing from what should no longer be considered a regional symphony."
Our November concert at the New West Symphony featured classical guitarist Jason Vieaux, bandoneonist and composer Julien Labro, and INCA The Peruvian Ensemble in a vibrant program featuring works by Bartók, Gabriella Lena Frank, Piazzolla, Copland, Frank Martin, and the world premiere of Labro's Canvas for bandoneon, guitar, and string orchestra.
The 2019-2020 season started with my debut at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Director Alison Moritz did a brilliant job creating a modern setting (a 1930s basement nightclub) for Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio. It was a joy to collaborate with this talented cast, orchestra, and production team, and to experience the vibrant arts community in Kansas City, MO. We had a fantastic run of performances.
Jason Vieaux, Julien Labro, and INCA The Peruvian
 Ensemble at the New West Symphony
This season has also featured returns to Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera, where I conducted an all-Mozart program with the fabulous tenor Michael Day, and IU Opera & Ballet Theatre. Last season, I worked with the incredible students at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music on Mason Bates' The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. This year we tackled two Puccini operas - Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi. I was also given the reigns to teach graduate conducting classes for three weeks at IU and was happy to share experiences and approaches to both the symphonic and operatic literature.
With tenor Ethan Udovich at IU Opera & Ballet Theatre
Upcoming Highlights
We have three programs still to come at the New West Symphony this season.
"Dreams" on February 29 and March 1 features Brundibár ("Bumblebee"), a deeply powerful children's opera by Jewish Czech composer Hans Krása. I’m delighted to introduce Katy Haber to our audiences for this piece. Her uncle, Franta Zelenka, was Stage Director and Set Designer of Brundibár both for its three Prague premiere performances and the oft cited 50+ performances in the Terezin Concentration Camp. I look forward to collaborating with several fantastic groups from the Thousand Oaks area to bring this work to life. The program also features Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night’s Dream and, for our Entr'acte piece, "Study for Strings" by Pavel Haas.
Hans Krása (1899-1944)
On April 18 and 19, we are presenting "Violins of Hope," featuring an amazing symphony by Jonathan Leshnoff, Symphony No. 4, "Heichalos," which was written for and will be performed on violins recovered from WWII concentration camps. Our soloist for this concert is the world-famous Olga Kern, performing Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3. The Entr’Acte for this program is the Allegro from Concerto for String Orchestra by Polish composer and violinist Grażyna Bacewicz.
Pianist Olga Kern
On May 3 and 4, our Season Finale features Sibelius Symphony No. 3 and Brahms' Violin Concerto performed by one of the world's great violinists, Sarah Chang. Our Entr'acte piece for this program is Sarah Kirkland Snider's Daughter of the Waves.
In addition to these concerts, on March 7th, I am looking forward to returning to the Civic Orchestra of Chicago to conduct four concertos in the Crain-Maling Foundation CSO Young Artists Competition Final Round.
I am also very excited to have three more productions of Mason Bates' The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs coming up. I'm conducting our Grammy-winning opera at San Francisco Opera this summer, June 20th through July 3rd, and at Lyric Opera of Kansas City and The Atlanta Opera in Spring 2021.
The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs
Wishing you all a fantastic late winter and spring. I hope to see you at a performance soon.

All the best,

Ron Merlino, MusicVine
646*825*9585 |

Christina Jensen, Jensen Artists
646*536*7864 |