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"The orchestra, choruses, soloists and Eric Jacobsen were all marvelous. My father would have been extremely pleased, I'm sure."
-- Alexander Bernstein, after attending Bernstein at 99! in March 2017.
april 2019: A nIGHT TO REMEMBER: GIL SHAHAM AT GBS!
Virtuoso GIL SHAHAM performed Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with GBS on April 13. The concert also featured the entire Planets suite by Holst, and a new orchestration of the Beatles’ Across the Universe.
April 13 was a night to remember, as violin virtuoso Gil Shaham performed with GBS at The Klein. In a masterful rendition of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, Shaham thrilled the crowd of nearly 1200, not only with his technique, but with his energetic style. “He was so into what all of the musicians were doing. You could see him getting excited about how the music was progressing,” said one concertgoer. Indeed, a broad smile never left his face as he alternated between playing to the audience, and turning to the musicians with gestures of encouragement and delight. Against “the rules,” the audience thunderously applauded after the first movement, but the best was yet to come. Conductor Jacobsen masterfully crafted the dynamics of the music, ranging from delicate strains on the edge of audibility, to grand crashing chords of joyous sound. When the third movement closed, the audience was on its feet for several minutes, until Shaham returned to the stage with an encore of Bach. “It’s such a thrill to play alongside Gil,” said a GBS musician. “He and Eric take us to new heights and stretch our capabilities. Amazing!”
In keeping with the season’s theme, celebrating 50 years since the first moon landings, the concert opened with a new orchestral arrangement Lennon and McCartney’s Across the Universe by Milford composer Rex Cadwallder. The Harding High School Choir, under the director of Connecticut Teacher of the Year Sheena Graham, provided ethereal vocal accompaniment.
The concert closed with the full suite of Gustav Holst’s The Planets, running the gamut of emotions through music. GBS’ professional musicians were joined by seven students from as far as New Canaan and East Lyme, who were members of the GBS-X19 Student Experience Program. The students were selected by audition in the fall, and spent the season working alongside GBS mentors in order to achieve a level of professional quality that enabled them to join the orchestra for this concert. “We are all about education,” said GBS President Jean Moffitt. “We want to do all we can to bring Classical music appreciation to the youth of the region, and this program, in its second year, is a fantastic experience for these talented young people. We’re very proud of them.”
Eric Jacobsen took the entire orchestra — with special guest Gil Shaham! — into Bridgeport’s Central High School on the Friday before the concert. “These kids came in expecting an easy last period before school break, but they got a whole lot more. There were very few cellphones out once the music took off!” said one teacher. Jacobsen and Shaham spent a good deal of time asking and answering questions of the nearly 500 students in attendance, and a large number of music students stayed after the presentation to speak with Eric and Gil. “When are you guys coming back?” asked one student; free tickets were offered to interested students for the concert at The Klein the next evening. GBS Executive Director Mark Halstead said, “We have to be where these kids are. This is the future of Classical music. There is nothing like seeing this music reveal itself to the students; they see beyond the classroom, the neighborhood, and the phone screen into a whole new world of culture.”
march 2019: moonstruck strikes just the right chord
a musical roller-coaster ride on march 16 at the klein
The contrasting sounds of Strauss, Stravinsky, Dvorak, and Bloch made for a unique evening of music, as 1000 people came to the Klein for “Moonstruck.” GBS was joined by the Fairfield County Children’s Choir in a rich performance of Vivaldi’s Gloria with GBS. Actor Keir Dullea — astronaut David Bowman from the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey opened the concert, introducing The Beautiful Blue Danube; he later read Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem The Moon, to music by GBS. We also honored violinist Bernice Friedson for her momentous 63-year career with GBS; she gave an emotional performance of Bloch’s Nigun, and was presented with an original program from her first performance with GBS in 1956. 17-year-old musical prodigy Camden Archambeau (winner of last year’s Young Instrumentalists’ Competition) made his conducting debut with Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances. The evening ended with a thunderous performance of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and a equally boisterous standing ovation. The most-heard comment in the lobby after the concert: “Best concert GBS has ever done!” ENCORE!
december 2018: yuja wang astounds!
Piano sensation Yuja Wang, known worldwide for her artistry and electric performances, performed with the Greater Bridgeport Symphony for All Of You On The Good Earth on Saturday, December 8 at the Klein. “This is the biggest cultural event to come to our region in recent years!” said GBS President Jean Moffitt. “We’ve been hoping for this for a long time,” adds GBS Conductor Eric Jacobsen, “and now the dream is coming true. The orchestra is so excited to have this incredible artist with us.”
The Beijing-born virtuoso is one of the most unique and brilliant piano players in the world, known for her one-of-a-kind performances as well as her fashion-forward style. GBS was honored to bring her talents to our audience here in Bridgeport.
Ms. Wang thrilled the audience with Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, a musical love story Schumann wrote for his wife Clara. The music describes a struggle between enthusiasm and dreaminess, yearning and contentment, loyalty and freedom. It maintains a character of fantasy, leading to an exuberant finale. She followed with an exuberant encore — exciting variations on Mozart — that brought down the house.
Also, on the program were Debussy’s famous Clair de lune (in keeping with GBS’ theme of “A Season in Space”) and Grieg’s In Holberg’s Time, interspersed such holiday classics as Bizet’s Farandole from L’Arlesienne Suite #2 (popularly known as This Great Day or March of the Kings) and Silent Night.
november 2018: “WE CHOOSE TO GO TO THE MOON”
Conductor Eric Jacobsen conducted GBS in a 2015 composition by Mason Bates – Passage – which fuses orchestral music with live vocal (Jazimina MacNeil, mezzo-soprano) and recorded clips of historic events, including John F. Kennedy’s iconic 1962 speech at Rice University in which he affirmed America’s goal with the words, “We choose to go to the moon!”
“JFK’s speech says so much about America at that time,” says conductor Jacobsen. “The whole world seemed to be coming apart, but it came together for a while in wonder at the good people could do, amid all the strife of the 1960s.” He added that GBS hopes its season theme A Season in Space will provide that same kind of hopeful uplift through music, comparing the unrest of the 1960s with today’s divided politics. “Music can bring people together, and that’s our main message, all season long.”
The November 10 concert included Sibelius Symphony #2, known as the “Symphony of Independence.” Also, GBS Young Instrumentalist Competition winner Camden Archambeau soloed on cello in Max Bruch’s lovely Kol Niedre. “GBS is focusing on young people and young talent,” said its president, Jean Moffitt. “We work to provide easy access for young families, and to give talented young people direct exposure to the work of our professional musicians.” She pointed with pride to a recent group season subscription by 25 students from Fairfield Woods Middle School. “They love Eric,” she said. “He had a long talk with them after last April’s concert, and they were hooked!”
In that vein, GBS held a competition for new composers (age 32 and under) last season, and chose as the winner Jordan Kuspa of San Diego, whose piece Whirlwind was premiered on November 10. Kuspa writes, “In 1962, President Kennedy gave his most famous speech on space exploration, saying “We choose to go to the moon!” While so many know these famous words, fewer remember that the speech was given on the campus of my alma mater, Rice University. In fact, President Kennedy made a joke about the value of striving for seemingly impossible goals, asking, “But why, some say, the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?” Touché, Mr. President! As I was composing Whirlwind, I found it incredibly inspiring to know that this important moment of our nation’s history happened just across the parking lot from my school of music. In many respects, I think Kennedy’s words apply perfectly to the pursuit of artistic excellence: “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone . . .”
In a program organized by our good friends at Music for Youth, the Discovery Museum of Bridgeport and the Pequot Library of Southport partnered with GBS during this galactic weekend of music, providing a free event that Saturday, November 10, at 3 PM at the Pequot, called “Close Encounters with the Conductor.” This will be the second of a four-part series (the others on March 16 and April 13) at which the public is invited to speak with Maestro Jacobsen and hear him perform with other GBS talent. For the November Encounter, Discovery’s David Mestre, director of the Henry B. duPont III Planetarium, will open the program with a history of the Apollo program, and a look into the future of space travel. Jordan Kuspa and Camden Archambeau will join Eric Jacobsen to perform and talk about their music. The Discovery Museum will also be bringing a moon rock – an actual piece of the moon, gathered during the Apollo landings – to the Pequot, and to The Klein later that evening, before the concert. Discount concert tickets will be available at this event.
“We’ll bring the audience to the moon and bring the music down to earth,” said GBS Executive Director Mark Halstead. “This day of celebration, of music and space, is a wonderful opportunity for the young and young at heart – the best of old and new, together.”
Make November 10 special — an afternoon at the Pequot, and a night at the Symphony! This program is organized by MUSIC FOR YOUTH.
september 2018: JACOBSEN + JACOBSEN THRILL!
Maestro Eric didn’t have to look far to find a headliner for our season opener on September 22, but the music transported our audience into the stratosphere. Colin Jacobsen performed two solos with GBS: Mozart’s exciting Violin Concerto #5 (Turkish) and Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending, a musical trip to the heavens. The concert opened with great fanfare, as the orchestra boomed out Richard Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra (of 2001: A Space Odyssey fame) at the beginning, and closed with Schumann’s Symphony No. 3 (Rhenish). Audience reaction to the evening was overwhelmingly positive.
It was a very busy week for GBS. Amid a challenging schedule of five rehearsals, our musicians hosted 400 students from James J. Curiale School in Bridgeport at The Klein on Friday, for a rehearsal-concert, sponsored by Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. Eric kept the large crowd engaged in constant Q and A, as he led the group of 4th- to 8th-graders through the different sounds and sections of the orchestra — and they loved Zarathustra, of course! An encore was necessary at the end of the session. Eric and concertmaster Debbie Wong also visited classes at Roosevelt School in Bridgeport that day, but the big event was our night in the abandoned movie palaces of Bridgeport (see picture under the NEWS tab), where Colin and the orchestra rehearsed The Lark Ascending in the grand lobby of the old Palace Theater with a video production team. Production staff arrived at 4:30 PM and the last of load-out wasn’t done until 1:30 AM. Dedication! This video is in production and should be released in a month or so. Stay tuned!
april 2018: WHAT A WAY TO CLOSE THE SEASON!
OUR SERIES REVOLUTIONS AND REVELATIONS CLOSED ON SATURDAY APRIL 28, 2018 WITH GERSHWIN'S ROUSING CUBAN OVERTURE AT THE FIFTH CONCERT OF THE SEASON, STARS AND STRIPES.
"Eric Jacobsen is magical. Did you see him at the end? He was laughing and dancing up there!" -4/28 concertgoer
APRIL 28: Said one concertgoer: "What a happy time, leaving the GBS concert, Stars and Stripes, April 28, 2018. All of us uplifted, smiling and joyous!"
GBS' final concert of the season was big -- as big as the American frontier. We opened with an American song that has become familiar to millions: Jay Ungar's Ashokan Farewell for full orchestra, used in Ken Burns' 1991 The Civil War series -- a modern piece (1983) that evokes memories of America's birth and trial by fire. Then came the music of three bona fide American geniuses: Copland, Joplin and Gershwin! Aaron Copland's unforgettable Appalachian Spring and Fanfare for the Common Man were masterfully conducted and performed to the enthusiastic crowd of over 1100 at The Klein. The biggest ovations, however, were yet to come, as GBS presented the work of two composers who could have only sprung to life in America: Scott Joplin, the son of slaves from Texarkana, and George Gershwin, the Brooklyn-born son of Eastern European immigrants. A medley of Joplin's opera Treemonisha -- in a new grand operatic arrangement written (as we imagine Joplin envisioned) by Milford composer Rex Cadwallader brought down the house. The Harding High School Choir, under direction of Sheena Graham, brought unforgettable harmonies to Joplin's 1911 magnum opus. A massive standing ovation lasted nearly four minutes as the orchestra and choir took bow after bow. Then followed Gershwin's seldom-performed Cuban Overture. Like so many Gershwin compositions, Cuban Overture shows Gershwin as a 20th-century American citizen-of-the world, a true expression of the great Melting Pot. Joining the GBS pros were eight of the region's most talented brass, wind and percussion students, who had trained all season with GBS mentors on this rich and complex piece. After another ovation, Eric said to the crowd, "I don't know if I can stop laughing, that was so much fun!" Encores were certainly in order, and after playing Happy Birthday to GBS Board Chair Doris Harrington, Eric led the orchestra, the choir, and the whole audience in singing This Land is Your Land. "I had no idea I would enjoy this so much!" and "This was the best one yet" were frequent comments heard in the lobby after the concert. Unforgettable!
"I noticed at the beginning when we were all singing the National Anthem, and Eric was smiling and facing us; he looked at all of us, from the first row all the way back up into the balcony. We were there with him, and he was there with us. It was extraordinary!" - 4/28 concertgoer
april 2018: GBS goes to Harding High School!
And the concert was only half of a very big week at GBS. Eric took the entire orchestra into Bridgeport's Harding High School on April 27, where the choir provided the Treemonisha vocals. The audience of 200+ students roared their approval; said one observer, "You just got the applause Scott Joplin was never able to get in his lifetime!" Click here to hear Treemonisha by GBS and Harding High. Then Eric conducted excerpts from Appalachian Spring, and talked over the students' observations on the music. The day before, Eric conducted two chamber music classes at Fairfield Woods Middle School in Fairfield, before working with the students in GBS' Brass-Wind-Percussion Experience '18 program (generously sponsored by Robert D. Scinto and Bob and Diana Graziano. What a week!
March 2018: OH, WHAT A NIGHT -- C'EST MAGNIFIQUE!
In The fourth concert of our REVOLUTIONS AND REVELATIONS series: Music of and after the French Revolution, Eric Jacobsen a musical tour of 19th-century France, with help from lots of great local talent!
A REVOLUTIONARY GOOD TIME WAS HAD BY ALL, MARCH 3!
GBS presented its first concert of 2018 to a great house at The Klein, March3. Eric Jacobsen began the concert with La Marseillaise, and showcased music that evolved from revolution in France through the 19th century. (Hear Eric talk about it -- click here)
Guest performers abounded at this concert of thrilling music. Pianist Andrew Armstrong headlined with a rich rendition of the Emperor Concerto (Piano Concerto No. 5), one of Beethoven’s most celebrated works, and brought the house down. You may ask, "Isn’t Beethoven German? What’s he doing in a French concert?” The story goes that this heroic composition was written to honor the new emperor Napoleon, but later in life Beethoven soured on Napoleon, and denied that he’d dedicated the piece to him -- all part of the turbulent history of French politics, and politics across Europe in the early 1800s. (Read all about it! Click here.)
The program then looked at the music of two French composers, whose work represents the flowering of the arts later in the 1800s, in very different ways. Gabriel Fauré’ s haunting, lyrical Requiem was performed with a wealth of local talent: the Fairfield County Children’s Choir and the University of Bridgeport’s University Singers joined baritone Thomas Woodman (Fairfield's own!). The concert concluded with selections from Georges Bizet’s most famous work Carmen, whose dramatic themes are virtually a byword for opera.
The concert was preceded by a gala French-themed reception in the Upper Lobby of The Klein, supported by many members of the Fairfield Rotary Club -- new members of the GBS family!
It was a busy week. Eric Jacobsen and concertmaster Debbie Wong brought the music of Kodaly and Handel-Halvorsen to two Bridgeport elementary schools -- Bryant and Jettie Tisdale -- and thrilled the young audiences. Two hundred students were on hand at Tisdale, and many attended the concert the next night.
young instrumentalist winners announced
GBS YOUNG INSTRUMENTALISTS' COMPETITION 2018
. . . AND THE WINNERS ARE:
FIRST PRIZE: CAMDEN ARCHAMBEAU, CELLO
SECOND PRIZE: KATE WEGENER, OBOE
THIRD PRIZE: CAMERON CHASE, VIOLIN
Honorable Mentions: Ashley Duer, piano; Mark Xu, violin; and Zoe Lonsinger, violin
GBS and the Hersher Family Foundation are pleased to congratulate the winners of the 2018 GBS Young Instrumentalists' Competition held at Faust Harrison Pianos in Fairfield on March 24, 2018. Talented students from all over the region applied, with the six finalists performing in an afternoon of fine music.
december 2017: HOLIDAY INTERLUDE A BIG HIT AT THE KLEIN: GBS' DECEMBER 16 CONCERT FEATURED ALLISON ELDREDGE AND OTHER HOLIDAY SURPRISES.
Holiday Interlude mixed exquisite Tchaikovsky with holiday singalongs, featured great young talent, and sent the audience home floating on the cold winter air. Eric Jacobsen charmed the crowd of over 1100, and welcomed the fabulous cellist Allison Eldredge to the stage at The Klein, along with prodigies Zoe Lonsinger (violin) and Hudson Ragins (piano). Bridgeport's own chanteuse Maureen Hamill joined in the fun, bringing friends and 17 youth singers from the After School at The Klein (ASK) program along to lead the singalongs.
"This is the best holiday concert I've been to in years!" said many concertgoers. Jacobsen blended Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 and excerpts from The Nutcracker with Strauss' Tales from the Vienna Woods and such seasonal favorites as O Holy Night, Hanukkah Night, Hark The Herald Angels Sing, Silent Night and Joy to the World. A highlight of the night came at the top of the second half, when Allison Eldredge on cello led her students Lonsinger and Ragins in a masterful trio version of Waltz of the Flowers, joined by the entire 53-piece GBS orchestra for the finale; the ovation lasted several minutes.
"This is my favorite time of year!" said Jacobsen from the stage. It showed!
december 2017: gbs had a blast with cirque musica at the webster bank arena
GBS musicians were thrilled to be part of Cirque Musica, a nationally-touring holiday show, at the Webster Bank Arena on December 12. GBS provided rich symphonic sound to a performance of song, dance, slapstick and heart-pounding aerialist acts. "We were greatly pleased at the huge number of children who attended," said Arena VP Charles Dowd. GBS couldn't agree more: today's kids need to expericnce symphonic music and high-quality live performances. It's hoped that Cirque Musica may become an annual event in Bridgeport.
october 2017: ¡BIENVENIDOS AMIGOS! WHAT A NIGHT!
GBS BROUGHT THE MUSIC OF THE CARIBBEAN AND SPAIN TO ITS OCTOBER 28 CONCERT ARRIBA ESPAÑA AT THE KLEIN IN BRIDGEPORT.
The October 28 concert was the second of GBS’ 2017-18 series Revolutions and Revelations, an exploration of the effects of political revolutions on music. Guest conductor Donald Palma led GBS through a night of Latin American and Spanish rhythms.
Arriba España centered around Joaquin Rodrigo’s guitar concerto Concierto de Aranjuez, a composition written at the end of the Spanish Civil War. Noted guitarist and composer Benjamin Verdery thrilled the audience with this evocative piece, considered a calming influence after the tumult of Civil War. For many years, the music was used by Spanish politicians to celebrate the victory of Franco, but it is, in reality, an emotional autobiography of Rodrigo himself.
GBS raised several hundred dollars for Puerto Rico hurricane relief through Americares. Thank you to our generous concert-goers! We also hosted a Latino feast before the concert in the upper lobby of The Klein, with delicious food from our friends at L.A. Tavern in Black Rock. Future theme receptions will take place before our March and April concerts next spring.
The concert began with Tumbao from Puerto Rican composer Roberto Sierra’s Sinfonia No. 3, “La Salsa,” a spirited contemporary Classical work. “We’ve been wanting to perform music like this for a long time now,” says GBS Music Director Eric Jacobsen. “This music is a part of the culture of our community, and we are very excited to bring it to The Klein!”
Also performed were works by Argentinean Alberto Ginastera and Spaniard Manuel de Falla, as well as a short piece by cellist Pablo Casals. Casals’ Song of the Birds was Casals’ opening piece for all of his concerts. Casals was forced to leave Spain after the Civil War, and always dedicated El cant dels ocels to “the soul of my country, Catalonia.”
Guest conductor Donald Palma, himself a noted bassist, enjoyed his time with GBS, especially being able to conduct "the exhilarating music from Puerto Rico, Argentina and Spain, impeccably performed by the fine artists of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony.”
"Thanks to a new partnership with the Greater Bridgeport Latino Network, we made a lot of new friends in the local Hispanic community tonight," said GBS Executive Director Mark R. Halstead. “For many in our audience, this was an introduction to the symphonic music of Latin America and Spain. For many in the Latino community in and around Bridgeport, GBS introduced orchestral music to a new audience, who we hope will come back again and again. GBS takes very seriously its role as artistic beacon in Bridgeport, for all the many cultures in our area.”
GBS hopes to see our new friends again on December 16, when we present Holiday Interlude -- a night of The Nutcracker (and another of Tchaikovsky's great works, the Fifth Symphony), Strauss (Tales from the Vienna Woods), familiar holiday favorites (with singalong!) . . . and a few surprises!
september 2017: september 16 season premiere a big hit!
eric jacobsen's fourth season begins with numerous ovations as revolutions and revelations season begins, with alex beyer AT THE PIANO
Eric Jacobsen returned to our podium for his fourth season with a survey of Russian music, before and after the Russian Revolution of 1917: Glinka, Paert, Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich. Piano virtuoso Alex Beyer performed a rapturous Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, followed by an encore and several minutes of standing ovation. The concert was preceded by a gala Opening Night Reception in The Klein's upper lobby -- Moscow Mules (with vodka made locally by our friends at Asylum Distilleries of Bridgeport) and sumptuous Russian hors d'oeuvres. "Music Lovers of the World Unite" was the first of five series concerts this season, three others of which explore the music of the Spanish Civil War, the French Revolution and the American Revolution. The December concert will, as usual, feature holiday favorites with great classics associated with the season. Hear more about the concert and the season in this WICC interview.
June 2017: Our fourth Barnum Festival concert the best one yet!
Perfect weather, thousands of people, fantastic fireworks, and the best music on earth made for a memorable evening at beautiful Seaside Park in Bridgeport on June 24.
Eric Jacobsen conducted our musicians in stirring patriotic songs -- Stars and Stripes Forever, the Washington Post March, the Armed Forces Medley, America the Beautiful, and, of course, our national anthem, then launched into previews of next season: Carmen and instrumentals by the great African-American composer Scott Joplin (who was born nearly 150 years ago -- 1868 -- and died 100 years ago this past April). Marvelous homegrown talent -- Bridgeport's own Maureen Hamill -- sang great Broadway numbers, with help from the kids from the ASK (After School at The Klein) program. GBS finished the 1812 Overture on cue with the start of an epic pyrotechnic display that rocked the large crowd.
DON'T MISS THIS NEXT YEAR! GBS IS CERTAINLY LOOKING FORWARD TO A RETURN ENGAGEMENT!
THANK YOU, BARNUM FESTIVAL FOUNDATION!
april 2017: Bach and Beethoven closed our 71st Season on April 22 at The Klein.
Guest Conductor Jonathan Yates charmed and thrilled our audience.
Our final season concert included Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks, Bach Piano Concerto in D (Soloist: our guest conductor, Jonathan Yates), and concluded with Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, the famous Pastoral. Jonathan's lively style and vivid descriptions of each piece made for a memorable night of music.
It just gets better and better at GBS!
april 2017: GBS YOUNG INSTRUMENTALISTS' COMPETITION ‘17
. . . 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.
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.
march 2017: BERNSTEIN AT 99! brings down the house at The Klein
Chichester Psalms and West Side Story Symphonic Suite anchored a great evening of music at The Klein on March 18. The concert also included Ravel's Tzigane(soloist our own Deborah Wong) and Debussy's Nocturnes. GBS was pleased to welcome voices from the Connecticut Chamber Choir and the Fairfield County Children's Choir for this extraordinary concert. Concert week was full of activity, as usual -- including an open rehearsal at Bridgeport's Bassick High School, visits to two Bridgeport elementary schools, and a TV appearance with Eric Jacobsen and his wife, singer/songwriter Aoife O'Donovan.
Bernstein at 99! was sponsored by Peoples United Bank.
march 2017: GBS reaches out to bridgeport High school students
"OPEN REHEARSAL" CONCERT FOR BASSICK HIGH STUDENTS, MARCH 16
GBS is a proud partner in education in Bridgeport. On March 16 -- two days before Bernstein at 99! at The Klein -- GBS played Bernstein's West Side Story Symphonic Suite and Debussy Nocturnes for honor students and special education classes in the auditorium at Bassick High School in Bridgeport. "This is an important part of our mission -- to educate the youth of Greater Bridgeport -- and it's a return to our roots," said GBS President Jean Moffitt. "In the earliest days of our organization, our orchestra performed in Bridgeport high schools, and it changed lives. We want to continue that proud tradition." Indeed, GBS -- in its original iteration, as the "Bridgeport Symphony" (a WPA Arts Project), GBS brought great music to the auditorium at Central High School in the late 1930s. In this anniversary year, GBS is thrilled to be able to share our music with today's youth.
december 2016: A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGING!
GBS TEAMS WITH GBYO FOR LA BOHEME AT THE KLEIN.
"Worth going out in any kind of weather to see!"
Despite sloggy winter weather, GBS played to a nearly full house on Saturday, December 17 with a rousing, emotional performance of Puccini's great La Boheme at The Klein in Bridgeport. Graced with the formidable talents of soloists Laquita Mitchell (Mimi), David Blalock (Marcello), Ariadne Greif (Musetta), Alexander Elliott (Rodolfo), Benjamin Bloomfield (Colline), and Thomas Woodman (Schaunard -- a resident of Fairfield!), GBS thrilled its audience after 15+ hours of rehearsal the previous week. Eric Jacobsen also welcomed the Principal Orchestra of GBYO to the stage. In a surprise appearance (the first time GBYO has performed at a regular season concert with GBS in over three decades), the upper strings, brass, wind and percussion sections of GBYO marched in as the Stage Band, (rescuing the Bohemians from paying their dinner tab), to the delight of the large audience in attendance. Seventy-five GBYO musicians then joined GBS on stage for Act IV of the opera, plus a grand rendition of Bizet's Farandole from L'Arlesienne Suite #2, better known at this time of year as the Christmas carol This Great Day. Jacobsen sprinkled Silent Night, The Festive Sounds of Hanukkah, Joy to the World and What Child is This into the program; the latter piece was performed by 16-year-old soloist Julian Shively of Trumbull, winner of GBS' 2016 Young Instrumentalists' Competition. Shively is also principal cellist for GBYO.
"We're so glad we braved the weather," said one newcomer to GBS. "We know, now, that we don't have to go all the way into New York City to experience great music."
more than 1000 attend gbs goes to the movies
A huge audience heard guest conductor Ted Sperling conduct the music of the movies on November 12, accompanied by stills from over twenty different motion pictures. Ted's commentary added to the night, as he related his experiences in film and theatre to the music presented. The crowd thrilled to a wide variety of music, from Beethoven to John Williams, Scott Joplin to Pietro Mascagni, from movies such as Gone With the Wind, The King's Speech, The Godfather III, Raging Bull, The Pink Panther, The Sting, Crossing Delancey, Platoon, Fantasia, Schindler's List, Star Wars, and many, many more. Lucky concertgoers were given boxes of GBS popcorn on exiting The Klein, complete with prizes inside. We saw a lot of young, new faces in the crowd. Come back and see us again!
November 2016: Remembering gustav
IN HONOR OF OUR FRIEND, GUSTAV MEIER
GBS suffered a great loss on May 26, 2016, with the passing of our leader -- artist and friend -- Gustav Meier, who conducted GBS from 1972 to 2013. He was 86 years old. A consummate musician, he was beloved by the Bridgeport audience for four decades. His winning smile, humble nature, and Olympian talent were a bastion of GBS, and we will forever be grateful for his gifts to us.
Gustav considered Bridgeport his musical home. Though he had resided in Ann Arbor, Michigan for many years, GBS was foremost on his mind. Just before his death, a dear friend of both Meier and GBS visited him as he endured his last illness; Gustav's first question to his friend was "How is my orchestra doing?" We are happy to respond: "Vivace!" -- thanks to the many years Gustav guided us.
"REMEMBERING GUSTAV" A HUGE SUCCESS!
On Sunday afternoon, November 6, 2016 GBS hosted a musicale to celebrate the life and legacy of Gustav Meier. Maestro Maestro Eric Jacobsen, Andrew Armstrong, Allison Eldredge, Alexander Markov, and Deborah Wong, along with Markov's parents Albert and Marina Markov, performed to a full house at the Pequot Library as the kickoff to the Gustav Meier Memorial Fund, which was set up in cooperation with Maestro Meier's family to raise funds for the future vitality of GBS. All of these renowned musicians performed free of charge, to honor of the man who gave them their professional start, soloing with GBS. GBS is grateful to the wonderful staff of the Pequot Library for all of their assistance in making the beautiful space available.
Several members of the Meier family attended, including his son Dani, who spoke about his father's days in Bridgeport, and how much Bridgeport meant to the Maestro. An elegant reception with heavy hors d'oeuvres and champagne followed. "The room was filled with love all afternoon," said GBS Chairman Doris Harrington. "It was as though Gustav was there with us, smiling."
GUSTAV MEIER MEMORIAL FUND
With the support of Maestro Meier's family, GBS has established the Gustav Meier Memorial Fund. Donations will be used to further the growth and vitality of GBS, and ensure its continued presence and influence for years to come. Generous donations have already sponsored a GBS concert. The next goal is to endow GBS' Principal Trumpet Chair in honor of Gustav Meier. For information, please call the GBS office at the number below; donation envelopes will be distributed at all concerts.
DONATE NOW: GUSTAV MEIER MEMORIAL FUND
THIS FATHERS' DAY, FOR GUSTAV . . .
Gustav's son, Dani Meier, wrote this eloquent testimonial to the man and his life's work:
It was two weeks ago: I leaned over my father’s hospice bed, I kissed his forehead and I whispered “I love you, Dad.” I heard him exhale one last time. And his breath . . . just . . . stopped.
For over a dozen years, I’ve used Father’s Day as a vehicle — through writing and photography — for messages about social justice, shining a spotlight on men who challenged domestic and sexual violence, on fathers who modeled healthy relationships, and on fathers who defied expectations, embracing their gay sons.
I’ve written too about my own joys and challenges as a father, to a daughter now 28 and to a 13-year-old son who stands on the threshold of changes that will make him a man.
This Father’s Day, I choose instead to write about my own father: Gustav Meier, known to many as “Maestro.”
My father was arguably the best-known teacher of orchestral conducting in the world, a master teacher at Tanglewood, Cabrillo, Prague, Beijing, a professor of music at Yale, Eastman, the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins’ Peabody Conservatory. He was a colleague of legends like Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa. He mentored Bobby McFerrin and the Baltimore Symphony’s Marin Alsop in whom he took pride that she was the first woman to head a major American orchestra.
For all my father’s loyalty to the integrity of “the score,” he was also an innovator, teaming up with Robert Altman for Stravinsky’s “The Rake’s Progress.” Or cultivating the wildly popular annual Halloween concert at the University of Michigan’s Hill Auditorium. No one will forget one of his students conducting the overture to Die Fledermaus hanging upside down dressed as a bat. Nor will I forget more serious moments, like his memorial concert at Yale the night after students were killed at Kent State.
At 65, having successfully beaten back prostate cancer, my father retired from the U of M. Sort of. He then promptly started commuting from Ann Arbor to Baltimore to teach master conducting classes at Peabody. He did this for nearly two decades. And he finally actually retired at 84.
Others can speak — or have spoken — to countless memories of his gifts as a conductor and as a teacher. I have those memories as well, as a child sitting in darkened rehearsal halls with crayons or a comic book. He’d stop the orchestra to have them rephrase a particular passage. “Fortissimo!” he’d shout over the orchestra as the music swelled or “More staccato!” And when they replayed it, even my child’s ears could hear the difference.
But on this Father’s Day, I reflect on more domestic dimensions of this professionally larger-than-life man who raised me. The son of a Swiss factory worker, he taught me how to work with my hands. He instilled a work ethic that runs through my blood. And, ah, the value of humor, something he’d often invoke at the most uncomfortably ill-timed moments. This too runs through my blood. Including the ill-timed moments, I’m afraid. This was a man who enjoyed a Cutty Sark on the rocks nearly every afternoon. He loved my homemade quiche, a fun movies and good historical novels, high brow and low brow, Ingmar Bergman and The Rockford Files. This is the man who took me to my first action film, James Bond, of course, in “Diamonds are Forever.” And this is the man who adored my stepmother, who modeled a kind of devotion that I also learned was the way to love one’s partner.
On the first day of my father’s final chapter five weeks ago, I stood by the side of his bed, ready to help him get out the door for a surgical procedure that morning. He sat on the edge of the bed as I stood next to him, preparing to help him get dressed. Out of nowhere, he leaned towards me and gently let his head come to rest on my chest. It was singularly the sweetest and most vulnerable gesture I’d ever experienced with my father.
Something inside me gave way.
I started scratching his back through his pajamas and, though quiet, he seemed to purr like a cat. When I stopped, he made a silent gesture (always the conductor) unmistakably signaling me to continue. I got him to the hospital on time for that day’s procedure. But that led unexpectedly to another procedure the next day. And that led to a week in the hospital, a few days at home, and then another week at another hospital.
He returned home that last time with Hospice. His cancer, held in abeyance for the last few years after over a decade of remission, could no longer be stemmed.
Through the course of those final five weeks, every moment with my father — whether staying overnight in his room at the hospital, transitioning him from bed to bathroom, or assisting as he used a walker to take carefully choreographed steps — every single moment was infused with the tenderness and sweetness that he exposed when he leaned his head into my chest. It was a tenderness I’d only experienced as a father, to a newborn daughter when I was 26. And fifteen years later, to my newborn son.
I was, for better or worse, my father’s only son. And as is so often the case, he and I had our struggles.
But all the ways we’d grown close again in recent years became distilled into its purest most loving form in those final days and weeks. I’d hold his hand and stroke his hair. I’d mix his instant breakfast drink shake — the only nourishment he got in his final week —or I’d pour him a beer and give him a hug calling him “Gustali,” as his mother had when he was a child. It made him smile every time.
The day before he died, I brought him out on his deck and we basked in the late afternoon sun, the cardinals’ song, and a calming breeze. I told him what a good father he’d been. And when he shook his head doubtfully, I reassured him, yes, you have. He told me I was a good son and he drifted into a nap as darkness fell. Life felt almost normal being outside.
The next morning when he woke, I told him I was going grocery shopping. “I’ll come with you,” was his instinctive response. I promised I’d take him next time when he felt stronger. Minutes later, he again said, “I’ll come with you.” Those were his last words to me.
“I’ll come with you.”
By that evening, he had taken a turn and we sensed the end might be near. I stayed at his bedside. I played folk tunes on my guitar and nocturnes on my laptop. And at 2 AM, he quietly let go.
I’ll be thinking this Sunday, Father’s Day, about all the ways that forgiveness and grace and tenderness came together for my father and for me in his final days.
I’ll pour a Guinness and I’ll offer him a toast — imagining the eye contact he always demanded — a toast to love and to gratitude.
I wish that grace for all fathers, sons and daughters, so needed in these often troubled and tormented times. Love and gratitude. Forgiveness and hope.
(Courtesy the Huffington Post)
september 2016: CONCERT WEEK IS ALWAYS AN EXCITING TIME AT GBS!
Everyone knows about our concerts. They're big events, with scores of talented musicians coming together to make music for a big crowd. Opening night is always a special time: anticipation, meeting old friends (and making new ones), great music, and the house exploding in applause.
There's so much more behind the scenes: months of preparation for the season, followed by an intense week of activity. Fifty-three dedicated GBS musicians rehearsed twelve hours to make our concert of Beethoven, Shostakovich and Dvorak. Piano soloist Alex Beyer worked diligently to present a brilliant Beethoven concerto. That's just part of what GBS is.
During the week before the concert, Eric Jacobsen visited two Bridgeport public schools with our concertmaster, Deborah Wong. They performed Handel-Halvorsen and Kodaly at High Horizon Magnet, Multi-Cultural Magnet, and Roosevelt Elementary School to audiences of enraptured students, many of whom are young musicians. Eric then invited the kids to make up a story, which could be told in music. As they shouted out "It's a cloudy night!" and "Somebody's waiting around the corner!" Eric put music to their ideas on his cello. "It's all about fostering creativity. Use your imagination -- be creative! That's what makes the future something to look forward to," Eric said afterward. Free tickets were offered to any student (and his/her family) for the Saturday concert, and many attended.
On Friday of concert week, Eric accompanied Alex Beyer to Fairfield University, where Alex and Professor Alan Murchie performed a dual piano version of Beethoven's 2nd Piano Concerto at the Quick Center, in a free concert for Fairfield students and the Lifelong Learners group.
Even before rehearsals for the first concert of the 71st season were over, Eric was meeting with GBS' Music Advisory Committee to begin designing next season. Big things are in store!