New West will close season with the celebratory Beethoven's Ninth

New West will close season with the celebratory Beethoven's Ninth
Marcelo Lehninger conducts his first program as New West Symphony music director September 2012 in Barnum Hall, Santa Monica. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

The Springs fire, which threatened Thousand Oaks last week, is over. Temperatures are down. We've had a sprinkling of rain. Roads are open. Destruction can be surveyed. Spirits need lifting.

It's time for Beethoven's Ninth, the great symphony of rebirth and community. And that is what the all-but-psychic New West Symphony happened to program for the celebratory final program of Marcelo Lehninger's first season as music director.


A new west, indeed. The orchestra also chose to use this occasion to select four emerging vocal soloists from a competition it hosted over YouTube.

The choruses are local -- New West Symphony Chorus and Los Robles Master Chorale. But mainly all eyes and ears will be on the enthusiastic 33-year-old Brazilian music director in this, Lehninger's first really big outing.

Concerts take place at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center (Friday), the Bank of America Performing Arts Center in Thousand Oaks (Saturday) and Santa Monica High School’s Barnum Hall (an intimate, too-overlooked gem with excellent acoustics). Let this be a spring fire that refreshes the soul, not scours the earth.