Join us as we begin our 79th Season continuing the search for a new Music Director.  We promise an amazing season and a musical tapestry of extraordinary performances and enriching experiences for the whole family!




The Season

Countdown 3... Gersen

October 5, 2024
Klein Memorial Auditorium
7:30 p.m.
Joshua Gersen , Conductor GBS begins its 79th Season continuing the search for a new Music Director with the second of four candidates*: Joshua Gersen. Mr. Gersen is definitely the most local of candidates, having grown up in Monroe, performing with GCTYO (formerly the Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestras) and conducting for them at age 11. This is not his first time on the GBS podium; Maestro Gustav Meier invited him to conduct at age 16, later in his storied career, he became Music Director of the New York Youth Symphony.

Mr. Gersen recently concluded his tenure as Assistant Conductor of the New York Philharmonic. The New York Times calls his conducting "Impassioned and incisive; the performance earned a standing ovation and prolonged applause from his colleagues in the orchestra."

The concert program will center around Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4, and include a modern work by Carlos Simon: Fate Now Conquers.

Countdown 2... Dunner

November 9, 2024
Klein Memorial Auditorium
7:30 p.m.
Leslie Dunner , Conductor Our search for a new Music Director continues, with our third of four candidates*: Leslie B. Dunner.

Hailed as "dazzling, elegant, polished, and riveting" by critics for his electrifying concert performances, guest conductor Leslie B. Dunner comes to perform a program that is sure to stir concertgoers. Lauded for his world premiere performances of Anthony Davis's opera "The Central Park Five" winning the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Music, and his "March to Liberation" subscription series concerts with the New York Philharmonic as part of their 2023 Inaugural Season in the new David Geffen Hall.  The New York Times "Critic's Pick" wrote Dunner's performances had " ... a streak of urgency and plenty of orchestral splendor... dive-bombing phrases with terrific energy and articulation... style, sagaciously managed, suave, with bursts of piquant personality," and a concert finale which "came across as grandly cosmic." Maestro Dunner is joined by Indiana University's Dean Charles H. Webb Chair in Music, Norman Krieger in Gershwin's Piano Concerto in F major, a work shimmering with orchestrational brilliance.

Join the GBS, Dunner and Krieger, performing masterworks of Haydn, Ginastera, and Gershwin in music that "echoes within for a lifetime!"

Countdown 1... Waddell

December 14, 2024
Klein Memorial Auditorium
7:30 p.m.
Rachel Waddell , Conductor At this festive concert, you will hear the last of the four candidates* being considered as GBS' new Music Director: Rachel Waddell.

Themed "Story-Telling Time," this concert is thrilling, enlightening and family-friendly all at once. Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf will feature a special guest narrator along with Rimsky-Korsakov's Sheherazade to anchor the evening, which will also highlight the musical version of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and a new piece by Chickasaw composer Jerod Tate: Chofki for String Orchestra and Percussion.

Rachel L. Waddell, an American conductor, has garnered acclaim for her innovative concert programming, commitment to new music, education, and collaboration. She was named a finalist for the American Prize’s 2019 Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award in Orchestral Programming due to her outstanding concert programs.  Rachel serves as the newly appointed Director of Orchestras at Colorado State University. Previously she was the Director of Orchestral Activities and Assistant Professor with the Arthur Satz Department of Music at the University of Rochester in New York. She has conducted orchestras around the world and in August 2022 she made her Vienna debut conducting Così fan tutte as part of the Vienna Opera Academy.

Something BIG!

May 10, 2025
Klein Memorial Auditorium
7:30 p.m.
Introducing GBS New Music Director!, Conductor This is it! At this concert, GBS will announce the name of our new permanent Music Director. The content of this concert will be determined after the selection by the Board of Directors in January 2025. We promise an amazing night of music and the culmination of this long and important search process.

You'll have to come to the concert to find out who has been chosen!

This concert is on the eve of Mother's Day. What a great way to spend the night out with family!

Stay tuned for more details in mid-winter.

Welcome to the GBS UP BEAT: Articles, News and Insights by Phyllis A.S. Boros, a feature writer, who previously was the award-winning senior entertainment/arts reporter for Hearst Media/Connecticut. In these periodic updates, Phyllis will offer everything from behind-the-scenes tidbits to what you can expect at coming concerts.

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates when Phyllis releases a new article! Plus, share with your friends. It’s a great free way to support GBS and help build our audience.

Posted on March 11, 2024

There are few ways better to celebrate the season of rebirth than with concerts full of joyous music.

Greater Bridgeport Symphony musicians, staff and Principal Guest Conductor Eduardo Leandro are now preparing to resume their 78th season on March 16 with crowd-pleasers Debussy and Schubert on the bill.

The 2023-24 season finale is set for April 13 with Beethoven’s light-hearted Symphony No.8.  (The 79th season will open in autumn.)  Both concerts are at 8 p.m. at the Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport.

A few odds-and-ends, thoughts and reminders follow.

Reflections on a youth well spent

Introducing kids to the arts at an early age can have an enormous influence on how they develop into curious adults. Psychologists agree.

It is no wonder, then, that I would become a “culture vulture” at a very young age, having enjoyed the benefits of a Stratford public schools education that was then committed to exposing students to a world view.

With French classes, we visited restaurants and cafes in New Haven and Manhattan, where I tasted my first onion soup gratinee and escargots swimming in butter, and bantered with waiters in a “foreign” language; with mixed chorus, we headed to Lincoln Center, where I experienced my first opera, Puccini’s “Tosca”; with English classes, we were introduced every spring to numerous plays by the Bard and Shaw at the renowned (hometown) American Shakespeare Festival Theatre; with music appreciation classes, we became familiar with some of the greatest orchestral music ever composed. Wonderful memories.

Nowadays, however, with public arts budgets shrinking, the job of culturally educating our children falls primarily to families. And making that responsibility a bit easier are community nonprofits that offer substantial discounts for family groups. The Greater Bridgeport Symphony is one of these.

The orchestra is now offering a Family Pack Deal: All those under age 19 are charged $10 for any seat in the house, when accompanied by adults, who will be given a 15 % discount on their tickets.

GBS has an annual budget of about $480,000.  Of this, only about 21% comes from ticket sales — still down significantly from pre-Pandemic days.  A good deal of the rest comes from grants, foundations, local businesses and advertising.  The Annual Fund is an essential part of operating revenue.  Made up of donations from patrons (the majority below $500), the Annual Fund accounts for over 20% of the annual budget.  For the 2023-24 season, the Annual Fund Drive netted just shy of $100,000 from patron donations.  “Costs have risen dramatically, so our Annual Fund and Corporate Sponsorships are more vital than ever” said GBS Executive Director, Phyllis Rhodes Cortese.  A new Annual Fund Drive for 2024-25 begins at the March concert with season subscriptions for the GBS 79th season going on sale soon.

Money matters

Keep in mind that arts organizations are still recovering from Covid-created financial concerns.

“More than ever, the GBS needs your support so that we may continue to grow and thrive,” according to a recent statement from the orchestra. “Like all arts organizations, we are coming back from a very hard time, and it will be awhile before audiences return to levels we have seen in the past.”

In order to survive, GBS audiences need to embrace the orchestra as its own and commit to supporting this community gem,” said Maestro Eduardo Leandro.

The search goes on

At the moment, there is nothing new to report on the GBS’ search for a permanent Conductor/Music Director. The GBS board is in the midst of processing applications “from around the world” and is narrowing its choices, Cortese said.

March program notes

The GBSwill usher in the call of Spring’’ with a Flute Fusion program, on March 16. Featured will be flutist Keith Bonner, who is a member of the Grammy-nominated Borealis Wind Quintet of New York.

GBS President Mark Halstead said the concert will showcase Bonner’s virtuosity with Debussy’s “Afternoon of a Faun” and Schubert’s Symphony No. 5.  “The Faun is one of those emotional, lyrical pieces that just about everyone knows. Seasoned symphony-goers will be excited to hear it played, and newcomers will recognize its themes immediately,” Halstead noted. 

“Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 is a gem, where the 19-year-old Schubert breaks from Beethoven’s influence; it’s lively, fresh tone is the perfect signal for spring, and its beautiful flute sections tie it to the other pieces in the program. It remains to this day one of his most popular works.”

In addition, the concert will highlight Paul Schoenfield’s  Klezmer Rondos, “another composition showing the magic of the flute. Composed in 1989, Schoenfield integrated the traditional sounds of Ashkenazi Jewish celebrations with full orchestration.” 

GBS board chair Doris Harrington said the concert is sponsored by the family of Jennifer C. Moorin, who passed away in January. “Along with her husband, retired local attorney Herbert Moorin (a longtime orchestra trustee), Jennifer was a prominent supporter and ardent worker in many local charities. Jennifer was a bright light at GBS for decades. We are saddened by her loss but know that her spirit is well-expressed in Schubert’s Symphony No. 5, which we’ll be dedicating and performing in her honor.” 

For further information, call (203) 576-0263.

Posted on September 24, 2023

78th Anniversary Season

As the Greater Bridgeport Symphony approaches its 78th anniversary season, it strives to recover from the devastating effects of the Covid-19 shut-down with a renewed sense of purpose, a new executive director and a new guest conductor. 

“As Bridgeport goes, so goes the Greater Bridgeport Symphony.” For decades that has been the mantra in area music circles. The orchestra, it seems, continues to ride the same roller-coaster that has carried the city though bleak times as well as periods of regional economic success.

For the 2023-24 season, which opens Oct. 14 at Bridgeport’s Klein Memorial Auditorium, the all-professional orchestra is in high spirits, believing that it will soon re-capture its momentum as one of the state’s leading arts organizations. In part because Bridgeport’s reputation continues to improve while the GBS is entering a new era with Brazilian Eduardo Leandro as principal guest conductor.


Executive Director Phyllis Rhodes Cortese notes that many state arts organizations, — orchestras, opera and dance companies, theaters and presenting venues — were forced to suspend their seasons during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic because of state guidelines. Some did not survive. But Bridgeport’s “community gem” persevered, presenting a season of watch-at-home web concerts during 2020-21, with tickets sold at a discount. Remarkably, it also presented an outdoor 2020 summer pops concert — in honor of longtime GBS benefactor Doris Harrington — at a Trumbull park with “pods” of friends and family sitting together in assigned seats — all wearing masks. Local philanthropists, corporations and individual small donors are helping with the rebuilding, she adds.

No doubt helping the symphony in its effort to grow is the public’s renewed desire to be out and about post-pandemic, says Cortese, who from 2008-22 served as the executive director of the former state-owned Charles Ives performing arts center in Danbury, shuttered by the pandemic.

In the early 1990s, when the city and symphony were struggling, the late GBS Maestro Gustav Meier repeatedly observed that audiences had traded attending live orchestral concerts for “cocooning” at home with their sophisticated sound systems, electronic games and home theaters. Meier opined that the situation would eventually change when music-lovers tired of being home-bound and came to realize that few musical experiences can top a live performance. True, then and now.

Orchestra memories

Bolstered by a growing economy, many post-World War II Americans were eager to spend money on new or better homes, furnishings and autos and on having fun — dining out, nightclub entertainment, theater-going and concerts.

In the pages of the Bridgeport Post, Sunday Post and morning Telegram, news stories often accompanied by several photos would reflect the excitement and glamor of concert nights — men in suits and tuxedos and women in cocktail dresses and gowns.

Audiences came in this boom era to hear magnificent orchestral music from various periods — in particular classical, romantic and modern. Composers such as Brahms and Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Gershwin come to mind. And they also came to be part of a community celebration.

Leandro, who also enjoys successful careers as a solo percussionist and educator, says he is committed to turning concerts into gala events during his one-season commitment to the GBS (while the orchestra continues its international search for a permanent conductor following the nine-season reign of Eric Jacobsen). Leandro will conduct all five concerts.

In a recent interview, Leandro said in many cultures, orchestra halls are considered as community centers, ”a place where you can feel welcome, a place for everyone who wants to hear great music without feeling intimidated.”

To that end, the theme of the coming season is “Building Bridges” among various community segments.

Long line of greats

Leandro follows in a line of distinguished conductors to helm the GBS. Owing to its proximity to the Yale University graduate music school and the New York metro area, the GBS has always been able to draw from a highly talented pool of musicians and conductors.

On the podium for the first concert in February 1947 was Canadian-born Daniel Saidenberg, who would go on to open a Manhattan art gallery and serve as Pablo Picasso’s American representative. He was followed by Jonel Perlea (1955-65), who had conducted the Bucharest (Romania) Opera, Milan’s La Scala and New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Jose Iturbi — pianist, conductor and MGM film star — was on the podium until 1972, followed by Meier.

The Swiss-born Meier, considered among the best conducting teachers in the United States, was music director/conductor for more than 40 years, creating a legion of devoted followers. Jacobsen, who was named music director in 2014 and served through April, now wears many hats, including as music director of the Orlando Philharmonic and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

 Phyllis A.S. Boros is a feature writer, who previously was the award-winning senior entertainment/arts reporter for Hearst Media/Connecticut.

Introducing Eduardo Leandro

Worldly, multi-lingual and multi-talented Eduardo Leandro is spurred by his many passions — music and aviation chief among them.

This 52-year-old Brazilian-born musician speaks five languages fluently: Portuguese, Spanish, French, English and Dutch — and three more (including Korean) conversationally. He has homes in New York City and at an environmentally aware “green” community outside of Gettysburg, Pa. He is regularly found at concert, conference and lecture halls throughout Europe, Asia, Latin America, Canada and the United States as a conductor and percussionist.

Getting from point “A” to point “B,” especially in North America, is usually done with ease — a la James Bond — as he pilots his own single engine, four-seat Mooney whenever practicable.

French Horns

Play a Part

Help The Greater Bridgeport Symphony usher in a new era of music guaranteed to move, excite and engage. Join us in person for Concerts at The Klein or special events in the Great Bridgeport area and help ensure that future generations will be able to experience live music for decades to come.

With the support from the Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts

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