Concert under the stars


A blockbuster Pops concert, featuring Broadway and Hollywood hits, patriotic tunes, opera favorites and light classics, will delight audiences of all ages at the Greater Bridgeport Symphony's free outdoor performance on Saturday evening, June 26th.

The 8 p.m. concert - featuring a return engagement of charismatic guest conductor Matthew Savery, who has charmed audiences for six years in a row - will take place at Fairfield University.

This year's concert will move to a new location in front of the Dimenna-Nyselius Library, which is located between the Quick Center for the Arts and the Barone Campus Center. The site was chosen because of the library's expansive, rolling lawn, which will easily accommodate the anticipated audience of 10,000. In past years the orchestra performed from Bellarmine Hall Terrace, the main administrative building, which is currently undergoing a renovation.

"The new site is larger than Bellarmine Lawn and has a natural amphitheater shape. The audience will also have a better sight line of the orchestra," comments Jena Maric, GBS Executive Director. "There are some stately trees that will provide great shade during the pre-concert program. Because it's a gentle rolling lawn, we are suggesting that people bring blankets and picnic baskets instead of tables and chairs."

Sponsored by Elizabeth M. Pfriem, with additional assistance from the Greater Bridgeport Symphony and Fairfield University, the 50-member orchestra will perform music from Broadway smash hits The Producers, The Music Man and The Wizard of Oz. The program will also feature light classics including Rimsky-Korsakov's Procession of the Nobles, a selection from Grieg's popular Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Mozart's Marriage of Figaro Overture, Offenbach's lively Overture to Orpheus in the Underworld, Debussy's romantic Claire de lune, Strauss's upbeat Radetsky March, Gade's seductive tango, Jalousie; and Tchaikovsky's monumental 1812 Overture.

This year's program will feature the gifted young soprano Elly Erickson hailed for her "powerful, smooth, incredibly flexible and intense coloratura voice and charming stage-presence." The Winner of the Barnum Festival's 2003 Jenny Lind Competition, will perform such enchanting arias as "Der Holle Rache" from Mozart's Magic Flute; "Mein her Marquis" from Strauss's Die Fledermaus and the jazz ballad, "Come Rain or Come Shine" from Saint Louis Woman.

"I have been fortunate to conduct outdoor engagements throughout the United States, and the venue at Fairfield University, I believe, is the most splendid of all," comments the handsome 37-year old maestro. "It's wonderful to see young and old enjoy an evening of fun, relaxation and great music. Even though we'll be in a different site on campus, it will still be the same great show."

About to celebrate his eleventh anniversary season as Music Director of the Bozeman (Montana) Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Choir, Matthew Savery enjoys a rapidly expanding reputation for his multi-faceted career as an electrifying performer, dedicated orchestra builder, and inspiring teacher.

In addition to his duties with the Bozeman Orchestra, where his innovative subscription, family and children's programming earns consistent praise and sold-out houses, Savery regularly offers the state's schools a "Conductor in Residency" program that, for the past several seasons has accounted for dozens of hours per school year. He is much in demand as both a competition adjudicator and an in-school clinician, and has guest conducted throughout the region. Until 1999 he also served five seasons as Music Director of the Butte Symphony Orchestra and Chorale.

Following his debut last summer at Connecticut's famed "Summer Music at Harkness", Matthew Savery's recent season was highlighted by performances with the Saginaw Bay and Springfield (MO) Symphony Orchestras, as well as a return to the Greater Lansing Symphony Orchestra.

Savery will be making his tenth appearance with the GBSO when he leads the orchestra in its upcoming December 4th subscription-series Pops concert at the Klein Auditorium, in Bridgeport. The program is entitled "Holiday Magic," and will feature selections from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Rossini's Magic Toy Shop, and other festive sounds of the season.

A native of Western Massachusetts, just "down the road" from the famed Tanglewood Music Festival, Savery graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music and received his Master of Music Degree from the University of Michigan, where he was the recipient of a Teaching Assistantship to the prestigious studio of Gustav Meier. In addition to Mr. Meier, his principal teachers have been Pascal Verrot and Frank Battisti.

While at the University of Michigan, Matthew Savery was the founding Music Director of the University Campus Chamber Orchestra. Subsequently, he also served as Music Director of the Comic Opera Guild of Ann Arbor, Massachusetts' Stockbridge Sinfonia, and the Tecumseh Orchestra in Michigan. He has also led performances with the Fort Wayne and Long Island Philharmonics, Sioux City, Quad City and Virginia Symphony Orchestras, the Missouri Chamber Orchestra, Cape May Music Festival and Canada's Victoria Symphony. In June 2001, he made a notable debut with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, opening its acclaimed summer series at Conner Prairie. Savery was a member of the first class of the International Institute for Conductors in Kiev, Ukraine, and has led that country's National Symphony Orchestra in public performance. Matthew Savery is a recipient of the Eugene and Sadie Power Award for the Performing Arts. In 1998 he and the Bozeman Symphony Orchestra were the subjects of a special feature on "CBS Sunday Morning."

Soprano Elly Erickson won first place at the 2003 Jenny Lind Competition and the Joyce Dutka Arts Foundation Competition. Over the last ten months, she has received career grants from the Bronx Council on the Arts, National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, Anna Sosenko Assist Trust, and a special opportunity grant funded by the New York Foundation for the Arts/New York State Council on the Arts. In the last year, Erickson performed a concert tour in Sweden, interpreted the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute, Adele in Die Fledermaus, Olympia in The Tales of Hoffmann, and Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi. She was also heard singing Villa-Lobos' Bachianas Brasileiras, was featured at the Special Olympics and in a documentary on opera singers last spring. Next season she will debut with Nashville Opera in productions of Carmen, Die Fledermaus and Hansel and Gretel. She will also be debuting with Delaware Valley Opera as Clorinda in La Cenerentola this summer.

Erickson has performed numerous opera and musical theater roles. She has interpreted one of her signature roles, the Queen of the Night, with El Paso Opera, Taconic Opera, Opera Company of Brooklyn, and with her alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A lover of twentieth century music, the soprano has performed Rorem's Ariel, Foss' Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, and Ravel's Shéhérazade. In 2000, she sang backup for Barbra Streisand's Farewell Concert at Madison Square Garden.

A free-lance writer, Erickson's publications include "Getting into a Young Artist Program" and "Trends in Opera" for the November 2003 issue of Classical Singer Magazine. As a consultant for the United Nations DPI/NGO Committees, Erickson served as the Chair of the Youth Liaison Committee for the 2002 and 2003 DPI/NGO Peace Conferences.

The Greater Bridgeport Symphony and Fairfield University share an early history. Both began operating in the mid-forties, and the Symphony's famous "Music under the Stars" summer series at Fairfield University drew tens of thousands from the late 40s to mid-60s. These outdoor concerts featured celebrities such as Roberta Peters, Bob Hope, Paul Whiteman, Eileen Farrell, Woody Hermann, Johnny Mathis, Eartha Kitt, Andre Kostelanetz and Louis Armstrong.

In 1992 Fairfield University invited the Greater Bridgeport Symphony to perform an outdoor Jubilee Pops Concert as part of the University's 50th anniversary celebrations. Starting in 1996, thanks to the generosity of Elizabeth M. Pfriem, the Greater Bridgeport Symphony has performed eight consecutive outdoor summer concerts on the campus, drawing a crowd of nearly 10,000 people.

The upcoming June 26th outdoor Pops Concert will also feature Moxie, a 7-piece band that performs new arrangements of great popular swing tunes, showcasing three-part vocal harmony plus two violins and jazz rhythm section. Moxie's upbeat swing music draws primarily from the jazzy styles of the famous female vocal trios of the 1930's and 1940's like the Andrews and the Boswell Sisters. Famous songs include "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and the "Chattanooga Choo Choo." Forties style costumes complete the act. Members of the Group include Dorothy Goldberg of Wallingford, vocals; Kate O'Brien of Orange, violin and vocals; Diane Orson of Hamden, violin and vocals; Tim Moran of Hamden, saxophone; Walt Gwardyak of Bloomfield, keyboard; Steve Bulmer of Cromwell, bass; and Joe Belanger of Clinton, drummer.

Concertgoers are encouraged to come early to set up picnic baskets and blankets. Gates will open at 5:30 p.m., and shuttle buses will run continuously from the parking lots on campus to the concert site. No pets are allowed on campus.

In case of rain on Saturday, June 26th, the concert will take place on Sunday, June 27th, starting at 6:30 p.m. for the pre-concert program and 8 p.m. for the GBS Pops concert.

Fairfield University is located one half mile north of the Connecticut Turnpike (I-95), off of Exit 22. (Note: Due to the concert, the Dimenna-Nyselius Library will close early on Saturday, June 26th at 3 p.m.)

Those interested in directions to the upcoming Pops concert or a free brochure on the Symphony's new 2004-2005 season may call the GBS Office at (203) 576-0263; write to the Greater Bridgeport Symphony, 446 University Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604; or visit online at www.bridgeportsymphony.org.

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

Posted on May 15, 2004