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Natalia Staneva Leads the New West Symphony to New Heights

As the Chief Executive Officer of the New West Symphony, Natalia Staneva is proud to be part of a professional orchestra that’s led by the GRAMMY®-winning music and artistic director, Michael Christie.

“Our tenured orchestra members have appeared as soloists with the finest orchestras, and some are GRAMMY®-nominated artists themselves, and can be heard on almost any film soundtrack you can imagine,” explains Staneva, who lives in Moorpark.

Founded in 1995, New West Symphony also performs with award-winning, world-class international guest artists who record with the most prestigious labels in classical music. Additionally, “we invite community arts organizations to perform with the orchestra to offer our support to their causes and audiences,” Staneva says.

Last season alone, for instance, “we engaged over 20 local community partners and 27 guest artists. As we embraced our community neighbors from generally underrepresented sectors in the classical music arena, we learned so much about their life experiences and family traditions.  One of our online concerts presented during the pandemic was viewed in 55 countries.”

Flashback to Staneva’s childhood, when her passion for music and the arts ignited.

“When I was 6 years old, I had an audition and got into a special academic program offering music lessons after school, similar to New West Symphony’s Laby Harmony Project,” remembers Staneva. “I was lucky to study music history, solfeggio, choral music and piano for the following 10 years.”

As a result of her early experiences, she believes that every student has the right to music education.

“That’s why I was passionate to bring Harmony Project to Ventura County 10 years ago,” says Staneva, whose first job in the industry was Associate Managing Director of the American Youth Symphony in West Los Angeles. “I’m grateful to many local community members who embraced me as a leader here in Ventura County.”

As New West Symphony’s CEO, Staneva is accountable for all aspects of the organization and for implementing policies set by the board of directors. She also sees herself as a link between the inside of the organization and the outside world.

“While the public sees the professional orchestra performing on the stages of two beautiful venues, I spearhead the policies and programs related to administrative, budgetary, staffing, fundraising and advocacy activities,” Staneva explains. “My position is multifaceted, and I get to enjoy collaborating with my team, union musicians, board, community members and, most importantly, our Music Director Michael Christie to ensure the integrity and growth of orchestra programming.”

Above all, the New West Symphony “is all about people” as a group of volunteers who raise funds to support operations and education programs, including the Laby Harmony Project, a flagship youth development program which serves a diverse group of underserved students.

“We create pathways to success for students by engaging them in a multiyear continuum of rigorous afterschool music training,” Staneva says. “Through offering a tuition-free, long-term and high-quality musical opportunity, the Harmony Project builds social equity. By collaborating with students, families and local partners, and together with our generous supporters, we build a stronger, healthier and more musically engaged community.”

The New West Symphony and all it stands for is important—especially in today’s challenging times.

“From numerous psychological and intellectual benefits—including stress and anxiety relief, emotional release and improved academic performance—music matters,” Staneva emphasizes. “Classical music can improve both episodic and semantic memory. Music makes people healthier and happier. Live concerts promote connection and social meaning.”

What’s next for the New West Symphony?

“We are expanding into new programming that we believe will demonstrate our commitment to evolve and grow to meet our community’s needs and further distinguish who we are as an organization,” she adds.

“It’s vital to any society to support the arts, and we appreciate all our donors and those who have returned to our live concerts after a challenging time,” she further emphasizes. “We are welcoming all our patrons back with concert experiences, not just performances. We are presenting an array of music that plays to the strengths and power of 70 musicians together and music’s ability to lift and excite our spirits.”

For more information, call 805.497.5800 or visit