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Greater Bridgeport Symphony Orchestra

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446 University Ave, Bridgeport, CT 06604
http://www.bridgeportsymphony.org
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(203) 576-0263 Additional Contacts
 
Although the early 1960s were tumultuous, the Symphony Guild created the optimism and action needed to balance the down times. The Guild was the most active it had ever been and provided the major source of support for the Symphony. Boasting more than...read more
Although the early 1960s were tumultuous, the Symphony Guild created the optimism and action needed to balance the down times. The Guild was the most active it had ever been and provided the major source of support for the Symphony. Boasting more than 200 members, the group raised money through myriad projects, such as glamorous balls, dinner dances, fashion shows, auctions, antique fairs, bridge parties and afternoon teas. They also took charge of membership development and subscriptions, and sold advertising for the Symphony program. This, too, was the period when the Greater Bridgeport Symphony Youth Orchestra was formed in June, 1961 by members of the Symphony Guild. This was a most unusual connection because the GBSYO was born out of the Symphony, with young members being chosen from elementary through high schools throughout southern Connecticut. The mid 1970s to the late 1980s, under the presidency of Robert S. Tellalian, was a period of stability and growth. The Symphony flourished with many new programs: outdoor Pops concerts, GBS Chamber Series, Artists in Residencies, and Children's programs. One important expansion was a competition for young instrumentalists, conceived and created by Ruth Carlson Horn, a former Vice President of the Symphony and one of the original members of the Board of Trustees. Named in honor of her parents, William and Frances Carlson, who were actively involved in the formative years of the Symphony, the Carlson/Horn Competition continues to be open to instrumentalists who are residents or students of Fairfield and New Haven Counties - ages 13 to 18. Since 1973 it has recognized many gifted young musicians and has often given them the opportunity to perform with the orchestra, its impact on young artists is demonstrated during the GBS jubilee Season when past winners have been invited to perform as featured guest soloists at four concerts on the Symphony's subscription series. It wasn't until the late 1980s when the recession hit Connecticut hard, its corporate funding dropped and the city of Bridgeport stopped its annual contribution, that the Symphony found itself once again battling to remain financially solvent. "The economic slow down was also compounded by 'cocooning' (the stay-at-home syndrome) a trend which effected orchestras around the country," recalls Jena Maric, GBS Executive Director since 1988. She also emphasizes that ticket sales and public support have not kept pace with escalating concert production costs. People who manage the business of orchestras ask themselves time and again how they might develop new audiences and connect with people - entice them to hear live classical music - especially in this time of CDs and CD ROM, and concerts on gigantic TV screens reverberating off the walls of multimedia rooms in homes around the county. The orchestra world is now going through what opera went through a while back," says Ms. Maric, "Now opera is having its resurgence. Let's hope it's the symphony's turn next. One way to help create a renaissance is for audiences to show their enthusiasm for live performances. Although symphony veterans applaud in a typically polite manner when it comes to showing appreciation for GBS performances, perhaps some whistling and vociferous bravos would be in order for the conductor and the musicians - and a few uproarious sounds for those managers and directors and volunteers, too. That kind of support lights fires under everyone with a keen interest in symphonic music. And the backbone of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony, the faithful, who volunteer so much of their time and experience, will again be stimulated to rise above the ebbs and flows of the tides to survive the down times again, and to celebrate the next 50 years.
 
 

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Although the early 1960s were tumultuous, the Symphony Guild created the optimism and action needed to balance the down times. The Guild was the most active it had ever been and provided the major source of support for the Symphony. Boasting more than 200 members, the group raised money through myriad projects, such as glamorous balls, dinner dances, fashion shows, auctions, antique fairs, bridge parties and afternoon teas. They also took charge of membership development and subscriptions, and sold advertising for the Symphony program. This, too, was the period when the Greater Bridgeport Symphony Youth Orchestra was formed in June, 1961 by members of the Symphony Guild. This was a most unusual connection because the GBSYO was born out of the Symphony, with young members being chosen from elementary through high schools throughout southern Connecticut. The mid 1970s to the late 1980s, under the presidency of Robert S. Tellalian, was a period of stability and growth. The Symphony flourished with many new programs: outdoor Pops concerts, GBS Chamber Series, Artists in Residencies, and Children's programs. One important expansion was a competition for young instrumentalists, conceived and created by Ruth Carlson Horn, a former Vice President of the Symphony and one of the original members of the Board of Trustees. Named in honor of her parents, William and Frances Carlson, who were actively involved in the formative years of the Symphony, the Carlson/Horn Competition continues to be open to instrumentalists who are residents or students of Fairfield and New Haven Counties - ages 13 to 18. Since 1973 it has recognized many gifted young musicians and has often given them the opportunity to perform with the orchestra, its impact on young artists is demonstrated during the GBS jubilee Season when past winners have been invited to perform as featured guest soloists at four concerts on the Symphony's subscription series. It wasn't until the late 1980s when the recession hit Connecticut hard, its corporate funding dropped and the city of Bridgeport stopped its annual contribution, that the Symphony found itself once again battling to remain financially solvent. "The economic slow down was also compounded by 'cocooning' (the stay-at-home syndrome) a trend which effected orchestras around the country," recalls Jena Maric, GBS Executive Director since 1988. She also emphasizes that ticket sales and public support have not kept pace with escalating concert production costs. People who manage the business of orchestras ask themselves time and again how they might develop new audiences and connect with people - entice them to hear live classical music - especially in this time of CDs and CD ROM, and concerts on gigantic TV screens reverberating off the walls of multimedia rooms in homes around the county. The orchestra world is now going through what opera went through a while back," says Ms. Maric, "Now opera is having its resurgence. Let's hope it's the symphony's turn next. One way to help create a renaissance is for audiences to show their enthusiasm for live performances. Although symphony veterans applaud in a typically polite manner when it comes to showing appreciation for GBS performances, perhaps some whistling and vociferous bravos would be in order for the conductor and the musicians - and a few uproarious sounds for those managers and directors and volunteers, too. That kind of support lights fires under everyone with a keen interest in symphonic music. And the backbone of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony, the faithful, who volunteer so much of their time and experience, will again be stimulated to rise above the ebbs and flows of the tides to survive the down times again, and to celebrate the next 50 years.