University College at Fairfield University takes music lovers "Behind the Scenes" at the Greater Bridgeport Symphony Orchestra


Image: Greater Bridgeport Symphony Orchestra - Gustav MeierWhat is it like to be a member of an orchestra? What does it take to work as a professional musician today? University College at Fairfield University invites aspiring musicians and music-lovers alike to hear the personal stories of local professionals in "Behind The Scenes: The Greater Bridgeport Symphony Orchestra," a three-part series.

The series kicks off at Fairfield University on Friday, February 27, at 10 a.m. with Jena Maric, executive director of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony Orchestra, and three of the Symphony's top musicians: principal flutist Jane Shelly, principal cellist Darilyn Manring, and Kate O'Brien, a member of the string section. The three musicians will play music and share their own individual stories about their involvement with the Orchestra and what it's like to be a freelance musician in Connecticut today.

Maric will talk about the history of the Orchestra, which was founded in 1945 in Bridgeport, the state's biggest city and a vibrant industrial complex, by a group of ardent music lovers from the local area.

"They wanted to have culture close to home," Maric said of the founders, who hailed from Bridgeport, Fairfield, Westport and surrounding towns.

The Orchestra developed strong links with Fairfield University in its early years, performing an outdoor concert series, "Music Under the Stars," on the then-young campus. Today, the Greater Bridgeport Symphony Orchestra plays a free summer pops concert at Fairfield University, which draws 10,000 attendees each year.

Gustav Meier, the acclaimed conductor and music director for the Greater Bridgeport Symphony Orchestra, will host the second session in the "Behind The Scenes" series on Wednesday, March 3, at 10 a.m. at Fairfield University.

"Our conductor is so well-known and highly regarded because he mentored and trained so many of the new generation of conductors who are working all over the world," Maric said of Meier, who taught at Yale University, the Eastman School of Music, the University of Michigan, and the Tanglewood Music Center.

Maestro Meier is the recipient of the Ditson Prize for his commitment to American music, as well as awards from Harvard and Columbia universities, and an honorary doctorate from Fairfield University. Meier is in his 32nd year with the Greater Bridgeport Symphony and is also music director of the Greater Lansing Symphony and director of the conducting program at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Md.

The series will finish with a backstage tour at the Klein Auditorium, home of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony Orchestra on Friday, March 5 at 7 p.m. Attendees will be invited to watch the Orchestra's dress rehearsal with guest soloist Alisa Weilerstein, on cello, for its concert the following day: Glinka Russlan and Ludmilla Overture, Prokofiev Sinfonia Concertante, and Brahms Symphony No. 4.

American cellist Weilerstein, a third-year student at Columbia University, is a graduate of the Young Artist Program at the Cleveland Institute of Music. She has already performed with the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, the Kansas City Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony and the Louisiana Philharmonic, among others. The recipient in 2000 of an Avery Fisher Career Grant, Weilerstein has released an acclaimed recording on EMI Classics' "Debut" series.

The cost to attend the "Behind The Scenes" series is $99. Those who attend the series will receive a 20 percent discount to attend the Greater Bridgeport Symphony Orchestra concert on the following evening. To register by phone, call (203) 254-4288; for more information call (203) 254-4307.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on January 26, 2004

Vol. 36, No. 151