Nine Ensembles. One Shared Love of Music.
GBYO – Inspiring and educating young musicians in Connecticut.
Young people achieve amazing things at GBYO. They develop their talents beyond what they thought possible and feel pride and joy in their accomplishments. Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestras’ (GBYO) holistic approach to music education means we inspire and challenge students at every stage of their music development. The study and performance of great music in an ensemble setting can be a transformative experience for young musicians and the skills they learn as part of a GBYO ensemble—teamwork, perseverance and responsibility—carry over into all areas of their lives.
Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestras has been providing music education and performance opportunities to young musicians since 1961. Its developmentally progressive music program gives ensemble members the opportunity to play at the highest level both individually and collectively. Members are selected by competitive audition and come from 35 communities all over Connecticut. GBYO strives for diversity and inclusivity in a social environment that is both fun and musically challenging. GBYO exposes all of its members to all types of symphonic literature and enriches their musical education.
Saturday mornings, from September through mid-May, nine separate ensembles bring young people together for music, enjoyment, community and learning. Through rehearsals and formal performances, young musicians gain valuable experience and an important sense of achievement and self-confidence, while fostering lifelong friendships and a love of music. Rehearsals are held at Tomlinson Middle School in Fairfield unless indicated elsewhere. Occasionally, rehearsals are on Sunday afternoons.
At least three performances are held each year at the Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport, CT. Most ensembles perform in at least one additional special performance.
Retreats and Social Outings:
In addition to rehearsals and performance, GBYO hosts a series of retreats and social outings. GBYO provides each ensemble with an annual retreat early in the season. All members are required to attend their orchestra retreat. The purpose of the retreats is two-fold: A period of intense rehearsals, coupled with recreational activities, immensely improves the quality of future music performances. The social activities give students the chance to “bond” into a cohesive group with common interests and goals. Retreats are held off-site so that they feel special.
Outreach and Collaboration:
GBYO includes special programming to provide additional musical experiences for student musicians and the community. In 2018, the Jazz Ensemble headlined for Twiddle at Fairfield Theater Company and played aboard a river cruise during the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC. Both performances were scheduled by direct invitation to GBYO. The Winter Concert in March debuted “Citizen,” an original symphonic work by composer and GBYO Jazz Director Rex Cadwallader and included collaboration with a spoken-word artist and two local choirs.
Also in 2018, GBYO once again collaborated with the Fairfield County Children’s Choir in a Kids4Kids performance at University of Bridgeport to benefit Mikey’s Way Foundation. Over 300 children came together to create beautiful music for the community. For the 2016-17 season, GBYO collaborated with New England Ballet for a special performance of Peter & the Wolf. It was the first time in its 25-year history that NE Ballet danced to live music. In Dec. 2016, the GBYO Principal Orchestra appeared onstage with Greater Bridgeport Symphony in a special holiday performance of the concert version of La Boheme. Annually, GBYO plays a free lawn concert at the Pequot Library in Southport.
Every two years, GBYO offers an international summer performance opportunity to student musicians in Symphony and Principal Orchestras or Jazz I Ensemble. GBYO has traveled to Germany, China, and Italy. In 2018, GBYO performed in Scotland and Reyjkavik, Iceland.