In his second season as music director of New West Symphony, the 34-year-old Brazilian conductor Marcelo Lehninger has not quite yet developed a large presence in Southern California. But he is a conductor on the cusp, beginning to build a strong reputation and getting major assignments.
At the Boston Symphony, where he was originally an assistant conductor to James Levine and is now associate conductor, his renown has risen to the point where he will open the orchestra’s new season in the fall, the week before the BSO’s new music director, Andris Nelsons, arrives.
In February, Lehninger made his Chicago Symphony debut as one of the replacements for an ailing, aging Pierre Boulez, who had asked that emerging conductors be the substitutes. Leading works by Stravinsky and Ravel originally planned by Boulez, the Chicago Tribune’s music critic John von Rhein called Lehningher’s an auspicious debut, “sharpening rhythms and balancing textures in a lucid manner Boulez certainly would have endorsed,” keeping “sophistication to the fore.”
Lehninger’s most ambitious program this season with the New West will require different skills. It is Verdi’s Requiem, but Stravinsky happened to be, if Boulez maybe is not so much, a Verdi lover. Nor does a little sophistication, in this Requiem, hurt.
The performances of the peripatetic New West Symphony and Chorus — along with the Los Robles Master Chorale, soprano Lesley Leighton, mezzo-soprano Rececca Ringle, tenor Casey Candebat and bass Raymond Aceto — are Friday evening at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center, Saturday evening at Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza and Sunday afternoon at Barnum Hall in Santa Monica.