Education -- whether for the young or not-so-young -- is essential to the mission of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony. Some recent educational activities are described below.
youth competition winners announced
. . . and the winners are
FIRST PRIZE: MAX MOON, BASSOON
SECOND PRIZE: KATE WEGENER, OBOE
THIRD PRIZE: ERIC HIRSCH, FLUTE
Honorable Mentions: Rachel Brake, French Horn; Ashley Lam, Oboe; and Briana LoCicero, Flute.
GBS and the Hersher Family Foundation are pleased to congratulate the winners of the 2017 GBS Young Instrumentalists' Competition for Brass, Wind and Percussion, held at the University of Bridgeport on March 26, 2017. Talented students from as near as Fairfield and Trumbull competed against students from as far as Ridgefield and West Hartford, in an afternoon of fine music.
Second Prize was won by Kate Wegener of Easton, who performed Williams’ Oboe Concerto and Mozart’s Oboe Concerto. Third Prize went to Eric Hirsch of Weston, for his renditions of Nielsen’s Concerto for Flute and Bach’s Sonata in E Minor. Honorable Mentions were conferred on Rachel Brake of Trumbull, French Horn; Briana LoCicero of Ridgefield, flute; and Ashley Lam of West Hartford, oboe.
Competition winners Moon and Hirsch performed together at GBS' April 22, 2017 concert, opening the program for guest conductor Jonathan Yates.
Bassoonist Max Moon, a senior at Fairfield Warde High School, won First Prize for his performance of C. M. von Weber’s Bassoon Concerto in F Major, followed by the Osborne Rhapsody for Bassoon, a solo piece. Moon plays in the Wind Ensemble at Fairfield Warde, and is a Music for Youth of Fairfield County Ambassador and leader of the Fairfield Woodwind Quintet. He has performed at Carnegie Hall as Principal Bassoonist with the Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestra, accompanying the Tim Janis Band’s 2015 Christmas Concert and with Manhattan School of Music Pre-college Symphonic Orchestra at the 2016 International Music Festival. During his high school summers, Max has attended International Double-Reed Society at NYU, the World Youth Wind Symphony at Interlochen Arts Camp and the Young Artists Wind Ensemble at Boston University Tanglewood Institute. Max has enjoyed first seat in All State Connecticut Music Educators Association Western Regional and All State festivals in 2014 and 2015. He joined Manhattan School of Music Precollege Division in 2016 and studies with Harry Searing; he is a member of the Philharmonic Orchestra and a Chamber group at Manhattan School and is the recipient of the Paul Stebbins Bassoon Pre-college Scholarship. Max plans to double major in music and statistics in college.
“We are always thrilled to provide this competition for the area’s young musicians. The depth of talent and passion for music never fails to impress,” said Jean Moffitt, President of the GBS Board of Trustees.
The Hersher Family Foundation has funded this competition – and other GBS educational outreach in Bridgeport – for the past two years, honoring the legacy of Kurt W. Hersher. The contest was open to any student between 11 and 19 residing in Connecticut. Next year’s Young Instrumentalists’ Competition is already being planned, and will likely focus on piano.
Past competition winners include Alexander Beyer, pianist of Fairfield, currently completing studies at Harvard University, who performed with GBS last September; cellist Allison Eldredge; pianist Andrew Armstrong; violinist Alexander Markov; and last year’s winner, cellist Julian Shively of Trumbull, who performed with GBS at their December 2016 concert at The Klein.
news from previous seasons
GBS and the Hersher Family Foundation sponsored the 2016 Young Instrumentalist Strings Competition, which presented its awards on Sunday April 3, 2016. Fifteen talented students from towns as far as Riverside, Guilford, and North Haven competed, with the six finalists (above) performing in a free concert at the Littlefield Recital Hall at the University of Bridgeport. The competition was open to musicians age 11 to 19 who live in Connecticut.
Julian Shively, a sophomore at Fairchild Wheeler Magnet High School, of Trumbull, won the competition after performing Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B minor/ 1st movement allegro, and the Franck Cello Sonata, arranged by Delsart, 1st movement Allegretto ben moderato. Other top finishers were: Ellie Shapiro, 17, violinist, from Westport, Second Place, $250 award; and Mark Xu, 16, violinist, from Weston, Third Place, $150. Honorable Mention awards were presented to Camden Archambeau, 14, cellist from Weston; Benjamin Crosby, 17, cellist from Fairfield; and Chealim Yoon, 15, violinist from Fairfield.
Judges were professional musicians of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony.
Marianne Laska, an organizing board member, said prior to the start of the competition: “In a world where so much attention is given to sports and other extra-curriculum activities our young people are involved in, it is the privilege of the GBS to celebrate and showcase yet another amazing talented side of that population.”
This year’s competition was restricted to strings only; 2017 will be brass and wind instruments, and 2018 will focus on the piano.
Board volunteer Mark Halstead has said the competition is important to area youth for several reasons: “The future of Classical music lies with today’s youth, who are too often distracted by gaming and computer activities. Showcasing the talented young musicians of our region sends a message that Classical music is alive, and resounds with the youth of today. These kids may well be the Greater Bridgeport Symphony of tomorrow.”
This event was made possible by a generous grant from The Hersher Family Foundation, founded to support the philanthropic endeavors of the late Kurt B. Hersher within the Greater Bridgeport community
GBS at bassick high school, bridgeport
recent educational outreach
In anticipation of the grand Mahler Returns to Bridgeport concert in March 2016, GBS gave presentations at Bridge Academy in Bridgeport, introducing high school students to the music of Mahler. The results were surprising, said GBS intern Yasminne Morgan, a sophomore music major at the University of Bridgeport who made the presentation. “They came up with comments you would not expect from students who have no musical background. Most of them liked the music, related to it, and compared it to cartoon soundtracks.”
“Those students are keen observers,” said Dr. Orin Grossman, retired music professor at Fairfield University. “Many of the composers of that cartoon background music were influenced by Mahler, and came to the United States fleeing Hitler in the 1930s.”
On March 9, 2016 Eric Jacobsen visited Bridgeport’s Central High School where he and Morgan talked to the students about Mahler and his relevance to today’s music. With concertmaster Deborah Wong, Jacobsen performed two duets for two classes of about 40 students each. Central High music teacher Colleen Filush says, “We're very excited to be able to partner with GBS for such a great opportunity. Our students are rarely exposed to classical music in such an intimate way. An experience like this, where they get to see different applications of classical music, will be inspiring and eye-opening. They’ll have a different perspective on a genre that's usually considered ‘not their type’ of music. Having an extremely talented and engaging cello player make time to reach out to them through GBS is an experience our students are very fortunate to be able to take part in.”
Jacobsen enjoyed bringing classical music to these students, whose music programs have been drastically cut. Of the Mahler concert, he says, “There is nothing quite as epic as a symphony orchestra building a Mahler symphony. It’s a journey like no other!” To this end, students were given the opportunity for complimentary tickets, and two dozen attended the concert. “They were absolutely awesome,” said one Central senior, “and Eric is so cool and funny; he gets so excited when he’s talking about music. Now I want to explore a whole new genre of music; you could hear so many emotions” in the music they played.
See conductor Eric Jacobsen perform with a quartet of incredibly talented student musicians from the Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestras, as seen CT Style on WTNH, Channel 8, on April 8. Jacobsen recently guest-conducted the Principal Orchestra of GBYO, working on Mozart's Magic Flute overture.
On January 12, 2014, GBS reunited with GBYO for a family-centered, educational concert -- Amahl & Peter - A Family Affair, conducted by Christopher Hisey, GBYO Music Director. This was the first time GBS and GBYO had performed together in 30 years. In the first act, GBYO played Amahl and the Night Visitors; then GBS performed Peter and the Wolf, followed by a rousing side-by-side encore of Bizet's L'Arlesienne. The event attracted hundreds of area families to an afternoon of musical story-telling.