It’s going to be a celestial smörgåsbord at the Greater Bridgeport Symphony’s season finale on April 9 with Northern Lights: A Celebration! at The Klein in Bridgeport. The GBS will serve up a broad selection by the bright lights of Northern European composers: Edvard Grieg (Norway), Sir Edward Elgar (England), Jean Sibelius (Finland), and Igor Stravinsky (northeastern Russia), as well as a new work by Tobias Broström, noted Swedish percussionist and composer.
The concert will begin and end with popular themes, opening with the gentle sounds of Grieg’s Morning Mood and concluding with the thrilling Firebird Suite by Stravinsky. Between these favorites, GBS will perform Elgar’s Cello Concerto with Jan Vogler, internationally known cellist, as guest soloist; next will be Broström’s Mirage, a composition written especially for GBS conductor Eric Jacobsen and the Knights (Jacobsen’s critically acclaimed orchestra he founded with his brother Colin), then Finlandia, an anthem by Sibelius – known as Finland’s national composer.
GBS conductor Eric Jacobsen – whose ancestral roots are in Norway – is completing his second spectacular season in Bridgeport. Jacobsen, a world-renowned cellist based in Brooklyn, New York, is also conductor of YoYo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and the Orlando Symphony, and travels all over the world with his music. Even with all this, Bridgeport is assuming a big role in his life; he says, “Some of my most rewarding and beautiful experiences have been in Bridgeport. Between working with students in local schools and making music with the incredible musicians of GBS, I feel at home here in Bridgeport.”
Of the April 9 concert, Jacobsen says, “Jan Vogler is one of the most beautiful musicians I’ve worked with, and I’m so delighted to invite him to play the hyper-romantic Elgar Cello Concerto with the Greater Bridgeport Symphony. Stravinsky’s Firebird will burst into flames ending this program, that includes the picturesque Scandinavian music by Sibelius, Grieg and Broström.”
Jacobsen has taken the lead in bringing Classical music to younger local audiences. He will appear with four top GBYO student musicians on CT Style (ABC affiliate WTNH, New Haven) on April 7. In March, he visited Central High School in Bridgeport, to talk about Gustav Mahler (subject of GBS’ March 12 concert) and performed for the students with Deborah Wong, GBS concertmaster. “Going in, you’d think this wasn’t the kind of music high school kids would want to hear,” says the GBS Operations Manager, Mark Halstead “but Eric and Debbie got to them. We offered free tickets to the students, and dozens came to see Mahler’s Fifth Symphony three days later.” Jacobsen also conducted a rehearsal for the Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestras while in town, working on Mozart’s Magic Flute Overture.
April 9 will be the fifth and final subscription concert of this season – following programs of Berlioz, Mozart, Mahler and a sold-out house for Beethoven last December, but more events are being planned. Jacobsen will conduct GBS in a free concert at the Barnum Festival Skyblast from the bandshell in Seaside Park, Bridgeport, on Saturday evening, June 25. For the third year in a row, the Bridgeport fireworks will immediately follow a concert of patriotic music and, as a finale, the 1812 Overture.
The Greater Bridgeport Symphony turns 70 as the new season begins, and “it’s going to be a big one,” says GBS President Jean Moffitt. 2016-17: From Bach to Bernstein opens on September 24, 2016, and its five concerts will include the works of Dvořák, Shostakovich, Bach, Beethoven, Ravel, Debussy and Stravinsky, with concerts devoted to “Bernstein at 99!” honoring the 99th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth, and a night of Puccini’s La Bohème. 2016-17 season tickets will be available at and following the April 9 concert.
Tickets to Northern Lights: A Celebration may be purchased online at www.bptsym.org, or by calling GBS at (203)576-0263. Ticket prices range from $29 to $59, with special discounts available for students.