ACSO Announces 2023 Award Recipients

The Association of California Symphony Orchestras (ACSO) is pleased to announce the 2023 recipients of the Executive Leadership Award, Emerging Professional Award, and Most Valuable Player (MVP) Volunteer Awards, and the inaugural recipients of the new Young Musician Leadership Award and Social Impact Award. Congratulations to all the worthy recipients and nominees!

ACSO’s annual awards program recognizes remarkable individuals and organizations within ACSO’s membership network for their meaningful contributions to the orchestra field.

Executive Leadership Award: Natalia Staneva, Executive Director, New West Symphony

Emerging Professional Award: 
Raphaela Correa de Lacerda Campos, Assistant Conductor, San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra

Young Musician Leadership Award: 
Zen Glick, Pasadena High School & Pasadena Youth Orchestra

Social Impact Award: Long Beach Symphony

MVP Volunteer Award: 
Linda Dunn, Volunteer, Peninsula Symphony of Northern California
MVP Volunteer Award: John Evans, Past Board Chair, Pacific Symphony
MVP Volunteer Award: Paul Finkel, Board Chair, New West Symphony
MVP Volunteer Award: Dr. Ayesha K. Randall, Parent Volunteer, Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles
MVP Volunteer Award: John Rogers, Board Member, San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra
MVP Volunteer Award: California Symphony Alliance Event Committee

Keep reading to learn more about the 2023 Award Recipients and their accomplishments.

“As a regional service organization, ACSO is in the unique position to bear witness to the impactful work of hundreds of incredible people and organizations throughout the orchestra field. Through our awards program, we can publicly honor and recognize those whose extraordinary vision, keen leadership, determination and grit, and unshakeable connection to their communities have been particularly impactful,” said Sarah Weber, ACSO Executive Director. “We are incredibly proud of the awardees and the innovation, fearlessness, and deep sense of service they bring to their work."

Thank you to the ACSO Awards Review Task Force for their careful, sensitive, and thoughtful consideration of all nominees: Akilah Morgan, Jonathan Rios, Alicia Gonzalez, Nadia Liu, Dean McVay, Laura Reynolds, Amber Joy Weber, Sarah Weber, and Donna Williams.


The Executive Leadership Award recognizes the chief executive officer, executive director, or managing director of an ACSO member organization for extraordinary leadership in the classical music field by advancing the mission of his/her organization, creating a vision that inspires others, creating strategies to overcome challenges, and uniting a team to meet the demands of the changing world of classical music performance.

 Natalia Staneva, Executive Director, New West Symphony

"[Natalia] successfully led the organization through strategic planning and the growth of the organization from $1,800,000 to $2,500,000. She is an effective crisis manager who led us through the pandemic and a period of adversity when we had to cancel and reschedule concerts," said New West Symphony’s Board Chair, Paul Finkel. "I don’t believe I’m overstating the consensus opinion of those involved with the organization that Natalia has been an essential driving force behind the organization’s success. 

Click here to read the official press release.


The Emerging Professional Award recognizes the current contributions and the future potential of an individual who has been in the orchestra/classical music field for less than five years but who has already made significant contributions to their organization, irrespective of available resources or budget, and has demonstrated the potential for leadership and continuing professional growth. This individual has experienced early career success in the field, has helped elevate the mission of their organization, and thus is actively making an impact in the community. The award comes with a $500 honoraria.

Raphaela Correa de Lacerda Campos, Assistant Conductor, San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra

Raphaela has only been with the SBSO a short time, but her work distinguished her as a true emerging professional from the day we met her,” said Anne Viricel, Executive Director of the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra. In December of 2022, she conducted a performance of Bizet’s Farandole from L’Arlesienne Suite No. 2 to significant community acclaim. We even received phone calls from community members and local music teachers asking when she would be back on the podium! It was the maturity of her conducting ability and demonstrated interest in orchestra operations that brought her to the attention of our Music director and Conductor Anthony Parnther." 

Click here to read the official press release.


Launched this year, ACSO’s Young Musician Leadership Award goes to a high school or college student who plays an instrument in a music ensemble and shows remarkable potential to become a future leader in the performing arts field. This award recognizes a young musician who has gone above and beyond in service to their orchestra, school, peer group, or community.  

Zen Glick, Pasadena High School Student, nominated by the Pasadena Symphony and POPS

Zen Glick is a remarkable student, one that I’ve had the pleasure of knowing since he joined our youth orchestra in the 5th grade,” said Alexander Chu, Director of Education & Community Engagement, Pasadena Symphony & POPS, who nominated Zen for the award. Now a senior at Pasadena High School, Zen continues to impress me with his maturity and responsibility, his ability to work well with others, but most importantly his positive attitude, especially for an individual who has overcome so many obstacles starting at a young age. He has demonstrated countless times over the years, not only during his time in Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra (PYSO), but through his personal life with community efforts, that he is a true leader and an inspiration to others." 

Click here to read the official press release.


Launched this year, ACSO's Social Impact Award is given to an organizational member that has created positive change or addressed a challenge or injustice in its community.  ACSO believes that an orchestra’s value extends beyond the music that they offer to their communities - they can also serve as agents to influence social change and make their communities stronger and more connected. ACSO seeks to award the work that orchestras are doing to serve, strengthen, and improve their communities both inside and outside the concert hall. 

Long Beach Symphony

Thrilled to be in one of the most diverse cities in the United States, Long Beach Symphony has embraced its role to partner with many diverse groups and community leaders in our city of 500,000. Relevance and sustainability goals were outcomes of our recent, comprehensive strategic planning process,” said Kelly Ruggirello, President of Long Beach Symphony. The result [of our Musical Bridges Initiative] was a community that (finally) felt heard and seen through a very difficult journey to freedom. Non-Cambodian attendees were educated about an important historical event and its impact on 20,000 Long Beach Cambodians. Also, there is an immense sense of gratitude that the Long Beach Symphony helped heal, unite, inspire, validate, and educate our city's residents. Our hope is that the professional documentary by award-winning filmmakers will continue to impact people around the world and inspire others to create meaningful collaborations with the diverse populations within their own communities. 

Click here to read the official press release.


ACSO launched the MVP Volunteer Award in 1996 to recognize exemplary volunteers, volunteer projects, and volunteer organizations and to thank a few of the hundreds of dedicated, hardworking, and committed volunteers that orchestras and classical music organizations depend on every day. 

Linda Dunn, Volunteer, Peninsula Symphony of Northern California

"Linda is invaluable to our small staff and brings goodwill to the office environment. Her passion for classical music and the impact our orchestra can make on any individual is sometimes stronger than even the staff’s! She is a cheerleader and backs the organization and its value to the community without compromise at all times. She is a perennial problem-solver and steps up whenever and wherever needed. She thinks outside the box – she comes up with ideas the staff have not already thought of yet,” said Chelsea Chambers, Executive Director of the Peninsula Symphony. Her perspective allows staff to view our programs, communication pieces, and events from the standpoint of an attendee or donor. This greatly helps us to improve the experience from the outside in. Lastly, she declines any public acknowledgment or official ‘title’ whether that be an ask to join our board or take on a part-time paid staff position and does so with humility. 

Click here to read the official press release.   

John Evans, Past Board Chair, Pacific Symphony

"John Evans, who is a former chair of the Symphony’s Board of Directors, has been devoted to Pacific Symphony’s work and mission for over three and a half decades. He has played an outstanding role through his servitude and leadership. He attends both our Pops and Classical series as a Box Circle Club member.” said Abby Edmunds, Pacific Symphony’s Senior Director of Volunteer Services. For all he means to Pacific Symphony, we celebrate John and congratulate him on being our Volunteer of the Year!”

Click here to read the official press release.


Paul Finkel, Board Chair, New West Symphony

"Dr. Finkel leads by example and has reinvigorated the New West Symphony Board of Directors to leap toward its goal of being a top-notch organization. In his first few months as Board Chair, Dr. Finkel re-engaged the board through a program called AAA, which stands for Ambassadors, Advocates and Askers and helps uncover the interest areas and strengths of members,” said New West Symphony’s Director of Special Projects, Patricia Jones. “Dr. Finkel [has shown] commitment to his community and unwavering commitment to sustaining the New West Symphony in order to keep world-class classical music accessible in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties.  

Click here to read the official press release.      


Dr. Ayesha K. Randall, Parent Volunteer, Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles

"Ayesha Randall has been a parent volunteer for ICYOLA for many years. She comes to our rehearsals looking for any way to help; she has recorded videos of our rehearsals for social media and helped staff and musicians with set-up and breakdown. At our season finale concerts, she always volunteers to work with either ticket sales or the supervision of the musicians of the orchestra. Her dedication to our orchestra goes beyond helping her daughter, but assisting in any way she can. We are extremely grateful and proud to nominate Ayesha Randall for this award,” said Akilah Morgan, Director of Programs at the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles. Consistently, Ayesha Randall has chosen to volunteer with a smile on her face, and it has shown our staff the prototype for a supportive volunteer. Randall has encouraged musicians and staff for their work and extends a helping hand at every rehearsal or concert that she attends. Her positive attitude warms our hearts and allows for both musicians and staff to recognize that our organization is making beneficial contributions to the community. 

Click here to read the official press release.



John Rogers, Board Member, San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra

"John Rogers is the Board Member every symphony wants. He is an incredibly generous and equally active advocate for the SBSO. He always brings guests to concerts and events, including purchasing more than 30 tickets for each of our holiday concerts,” said Anne Viricel, Executive Director of the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra. He has connected us with other arts organizations in his area of residenc, thus expanding our regional presence. He never misses a board meeting and is always a greeter at our concerts. And he is always the first to volunteer when extra help is needed. 

California Symphony Alliance Event Committee, California Symphony

"The California Symphony’s annual luncheon fundraiser, Swing for the Symphony, has steadily become a highly anticipated event organized by the California Symphony Alliance’s Event Committee, an auxiliary group to raise funds for the orchestra’s education programs. The event promises an afternoon filled with joy and entertainment. Over the last three years, the event has continued to break its own record in fundraising.” said Theresa Madeira, Senior Director of Marketing and Patron Loyalty at the California Symphony. All proceeds provide crucial funds to support the California Symphony's community initiatives and music education programs, including the nationally recognized El Sistema-inspired Sound Minds program. By attending this fundraiser, guests contribute to the growth and development of music education, making a positive impact on the community through their generous support. 

Click here to read the official press release.

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