From March 2017:
"The orchestra, choruses, soloists and Eric Jacobsen were all marvelous. My father would have been extremely pleased, I'm sure."
-- Alexander Bernstein
GBS YouTube video in production
Maestro Eric Jacobsen and his brother, violin virtuoso Colin Jacobsen, took the orchestra into the old Palace Theater — grande dame of Main Street in Bridgeport, shuttered since 1972 — for a production of The Lark Ascending. The video will be online in a month or two.
From April 2018
WHAT A WAY TO CLOSE THE SEASON!
OUR SERIES REVOLUTIONS AND REVELATIONS CLOSED ON SATURDAY APRIL 28 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
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!
From March 2018:
OH, WHAT A NIGHT -- C'EST MAGNIFIQUE!
In our fourth concert in 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.
From 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
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.
from 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!
from 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.
From 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!
From 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!
Come and be part of our musical family next season.
From April 2017:
GBS YOUNG INSTRUMENTALISTS' COMPETITION 2017
. . . AND THE WINNERS ARE:
First Prize winner Max Moon of Fairfield and Second Prize winner Kate Wegener of Easton are congratulated by Mrs. Jean Moffitt, GBS President, and Mrs. Doris Harrington, Chairman of the GBS Board of Trustees. Third Prize winner Eric Hirsch was unavailable for the photo -- already off to another competition!
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.
From 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.
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 class 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.
From 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."
From November 2016:
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!
From 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!