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Fairfield Piano Prodigy Helps Usher In New Season For Bridgeport Symphony

Maestro Eric Jacobsen, right, returns for his third year as the director of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony.
Maestro Eric Jacobsen, right, returns for his third year as the director of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony. Photo Credit: Facebook/Greater Bridgeport Symphony

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- The Greater Bridgeport Symphony begins its 71st season at The Klein Memorial Auditorium — and Maestro Eric Jacobsen returns for his third season — with a concert on Saturday, Sept. 24.

The season will include a variety of compositions, soloists, and contributing artists from the community, including the triumphant return of 22 year-old Fairfield native and piano virtuoso Alexander Beyer, who will join GBS on opening night to perform Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto.

Beyer has achieved world acclaim and most recently won the bronze medal in the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels. He competed against more than 300 pianists in the international competition. Later this year, he will compete as one of only five national finalists at the American Pianists’ Award competition in Indianapolis.

The concert, which comes on the eve of the 70th birthday of GBS (founded in 1946), features the lively sounds of Shostakovich’s Waltz from Jazz Suite #2, a mid-20th century work, and concludes with Dvořák’s celebratory 8th Symphony.

“It’s a very full evening of music, and it just radiates joy,” GBS Music Director Eric Jacobsen said.

The GBS 71st season continues with four more shows that span four centuries of symphonic music, from Johann Sebastian Bach in the 17th century, to Leonard Bernstein the 20th. “There’s something for everyone here,” Executive Director Mark R. Halstead said, “from true aficionados to those who are brand-new to Classical music.”

On Saturday Nov. 12, guest conductor Ted Sperling leads GBS on a musical tour of Hollywood with “GBS Goes to the Movies.” The first half will present “the real music” from which many movie scores were taken, such as the Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana (The Godfather III, Raging Bull), Barber’s Adagio (Platoon), the Second Movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony (The King’s Speech) and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, made popular in Disney’s Fantasia. Then in the second half comes music made for the movies – adventurous themes from Star Wars and other John Williams classics.

On Saturday Dec. 17, GBS spends Christmas Eve in Paris with Rodolfo, Mimi, Marcello and Musetta, performing the concert version of La Boheme. The full GBS orchestra will be joined by the best-of-the-best of local youth musicians – members of the Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestras (GBYO), who will play side-by-side with GBS professionals. Over 100 musicians will take the stage, playing Puccini’s familiar musical tale of starving artists in a garret, finding love on the streets of Paris on Christmas Eve. World-class soloists will sing the lead roles, and the evening will end with perennial holiday favorites.

GBS celebrates 99 years of the music of Leonard Bernstein on Saturday, March 18, 2017. The Connecticut Chamber Choir and the Fairfield County Children’s Choir will join GBS in presenting the Dance Suite from West Side Story and Chichester Psalms. The second half of the concert brings French romance, with Ravel’s Tzigane (Deborah Wong, GBS concertmaster, soloist) and Debussy’s Nocturnes.

The season closes on April 22, 2017 with GBS Celebrates Spring, with guest conductor Jonathan Yates of the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra, who will solo on Bach’s Keyboard Concerto. The concert also includes Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks – evoking scenes of gardens blooming in spring – and the quintessential spring composition, Beethoven’s 6th Symphony, the Pastorale.

All five concerts take place on Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. at The Klein Memorial Auditorium, 910 Fairfield Ave. in Bridgeport. Concerts will be preceded at 7 p.m. with a Pre-Concert Talk, which helps guide listeners through the music. Single tickets range from $15-$59 through www.gbso.org . Family discount rates and special rates for students (under 21) are available by calling GBS at 203-576-0263. Ample free lighted parking is available. Season subscriptions are also on sale.

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