Greater Bridgeport Symphony celebrates holidays with violin prodigy
To celebrate the holiday season — and the winter solstice — the Greater Bridgeport Symphony (GBS) presents its annual holiday concert at the Klein Memorial Auditorium on Dec. 21 under the direction of conductor Eric Jacobsen.
The night will feature Stratford teen violin prodigy Cameron Chase, the Fairfield County Children’s Choir and Connecticut Chamber Choir.
The selections for the night include Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio,” Vivaldi’s “Winter and Summer” from The Four Seasons, and “The Seven Joys of Christmas” by contemporary American composer Kirke Mechem.
Keith Loria: The concert has a great selection of classical favorites. What do you consider the highlights of the program?
Eric Jacobsen: First of all, getting to hear the Bach Christmas cantata, one of the greatest pieces ever written, which is so gorgeous with a chorus, orchestra and soloist — it’s so special. Second, Cameron Chase, a wonderful young violinist, total virtuoso, will be playing two of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. These are some of the best works that get played and this is a great time to hear them.
KL: Cameron Chase is such a prodigy at just 18 years old and was the winner of the Young Instrumentalists’ Competition 2019. Tell me about what makes him so special.
EJ: He’s a total virtuoso and such a great communicator. It’s hard at this age to get what it means to communicate with an audience, but it was very clear that he understands what that means and how to reach out and talk to an audience. I think these pieces are going to be perfect for him. They are better cinematic, and I think this will be clearly a win for him and the orchestra is so excited to play this with him.
KL: Why is it important for young people to be included and perform with the GBS for a program like this?
EJ: From the point of view of the soloist, you can practice and rehearse so much, but when you get on stage for a concert, and start playing for humans with an orchestra, it’s just different. It’s the real thing and feels different, and the only way to get better is to perform, and learning what it is and how to build on that.
KL: What does the audience appreciate about it?
EJ: Seeing someone who is just beginning their career and being an advocate for the arts is so beautiful. It’s like the act of seeing a great, young emerging athlete. Most likely, you get to hear these people performing these pieces for their first time, and they will probably go on to play it many more times.
KL: The symphony will be joined on stage by both the Fairfield County Children’s Choir and Connecticut Chamber Choir. What will they be doing on the night?
EJ: They will be singing the “Christmas Oratorio,” present a harmonious new composition, “Midwintersong,” by Liam Robinson, and singing other holiday classics.
KL: For those not familiar with the Fairfield County Children’s Choir, tell us a bit about who they are.
EJ: They are a group of very young, but very accomplished singers and they take it so seriously. They have great soloists. Their dedication to rehearsing and the practice of being on stage together and figuring out what that means is incredible. John Noyes, who is their leader, is an incredible director, teacher and musicians. We work with them almost every year at different concerts and they are very active around the area.
KL: I know the concert usually ends by asking the audience to get involved. What can we expect this year?
EJ: We will do a couple of holiday tunes that the audience can sing along with. “Silent Night” is my favorite song of the season and I can’t get enough of it, so I always do that and I love that the audience sings along to it. I like to end every one of our Christmas concerts with that piece.
KL: How would you characterize what the spirit in the air is like for a holiday show?
EJ: The general feeling in the audience is one of celebration. People who come to this concert support the idea that the holidays are about family and friends, but also about music and community. You feel that. The people are here because they really want to be here and you feel that on stage. People are excited and it’s an electric time of the year.
For more information about the show visit GBS.org.