BRIDGEPORT, CT (August 24, 2023) - After a search of over a year, the Greater Bridgeport Symphony (GBS) has selected percussionist Eduardo Leandro to conduct its 78th season, and excitement is running high as the concerts are announced. The season will begin on Saturday, October 14 at The Klein in Bridgeport; this premiere is the first of this season’s Building Bridges offerings, styled Connecting Communities. Leandro has assembled a thrilling combination of Latin rhythms including Emmanuel Séjourné's “Marimba Concerto,” on which he will solo, and some classic American pieces including Copland’s “Hoedown” and Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. Leandro is working with local percussion studios to bring area ensembles in to perform with GBS’s great orchestra. “We want to open with celebration,” Leandro says, “and having the community participate in this premiere concert is the best way, making connections with the great diverse family of Bridgeport.”
GBS’ new Executive Director, Phyllis Rhodes Cortese, is excited to be part of this new chapter for GBS. She says, “What a thrilling opportunity to join the GBS team in welcoming Eduardo Leandro into our family of culturally vibrant and talented musicians.” As the former Executive Director at Ives Concert Park and The Charles Ives Authority for the Performing Arts for 15 years, on the Western Connecticut State University campus, Cortese has been a lifelong advocate and driver of cultural revitalization through music and the arts. “Creating a culture of accessible, inclusive musical experiences to engage our community’s diverse residents to come together and celebrate the arts has always been a priority for me. All of us who serve with this nonprofit organization and outstanding symphony orchestra are committed to building a vibrant community and highlighting Bridgeport as a place of distinction and a destination for the arts,” Cortese added.
The season theme of Building Bridges will continue November 11 with Mingling with Mozart which will bridge the work of Mozart, including operatic aria excerpts by Thomas Woodman, baritone and Jessica Rost, soprano and the iconic “Jupiter, Symphony No. 41” with modern composers. In December, Uniting at Yuletide will revive the GBS tradition of a family-friendly concert with carols and singalongs surrounding Classical holiday music. March’s Flute Fusion brings out the talents of GBS’s own principal flutist Keith Bonner as he plays Schoenfield’s “Klezmer Rondos” and Debussy’s great “Afternoon of a Faun,” rounded out with Schubert’s “Symphony No. 5.” The season closer in April will be A Bridge to Beethoven, which will bridge the master’s “Symphony No. 8” along with Shostakovich’s “Cello Concerto #1” featuring GBS principal cellist Nicholas Hardie as well as the music of modern composers.
“This season really is a bridge,” says GBS President Mark Halstead. “We’re bridging the cultures of our city and bridging between our fantastic years with Eric Jacobsen with the exciting new talents of Eduardo. As the season goes on, you’ll see more and more participation by the community, especially by the tremendous wealth of talent in our local musical youth.” GBS is currently running several educational programs in Bridgeport schools and has already brought to the stage amazing talent such as 14-year-old violinist and Bridgeport resident Josh Gibson this past April. “The bridge to a bright future is stretching out ahead of us, and we want everyone to come along,” Halstead added.
Leandro was one of four candidates in contention to succeed outgoing beloved music director and conductor Eric Jacobsen. Leandro was born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, land of carnival, samba schools and rich musical culture. He attended the Sao Paulo State University, the Rotterdam Conservatory in the Netherlands, and Yale University. His conducting mentor and teacher was Gustav Meier, director of Greater Bridgeport Symphony Orchestra for over four decades. With fluency in five languages (soon to be eight!) Leandro is looking forward to communicating with the many and diverse groups in the greater Bridgeport area.
All five concerts are available by subscription at substantial savings (from $85.00 to $255.00 per seat, with one bonus “bring-a-friend” ticket to any of the five) and are the best way to experience the bridges being built in Bridgeport this season. Subscriptions and single tickets are available now through www.GBS.org/tickets; information and sales are also available by calling (203) 576-0263. The Klein is an acoustic jewel, accessible, with free lighted parking right across the street.