The Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestras (GBYO) is celebrating the 10thanniversary of Music Director Christopher Hisey’s leadership of the organization. Mr. Hisey joined GBYO when he was just eleven years old as a member of the Concert Orchestra and has since only been away from GBYO for a few years to achieve his distinctive music degrees. In addition to his teenage tenure as Principal Violist of the Principal Orchestra, he has been a String Coach and the Symphony Orchestra Conductor. Mr. Hisey became Music Director in 2008.
A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Mr. Hisey received a bachelor’s degree in viola performance and went on to receive a Master of Music in conducting from Bowling Green State University, where he served as Associate Conductor of the Bowling Green Philharmonia and Opera Theatre Orchestra.
GBYO has grown exponentially under Mr. Hisey’s leadership. In the last four years alone, membership in the organization has grown over 50%, with more than 360 young musicians in the program for the 2018-2019 season. Additionally, Mr. Hisey has broadened the scope and number of ensembles during his tenure from four to nine, adding first the wind ensemble, then a jazz band, and last season, a percussion ensemble and GBYO’s advanced Chamber Orchestra. Because of the popularity of the GBYO jazz program, a second jazz ensemble was also added last season. These groups, along with the classical String, Concert, Symphony and Principal Orchestras, continually attract the best young musicians from over 30 towns all over Connecticut. GBYO is the largest youth orchestra in the region.
Mr. Hisey has long been a champion of new music and collaboration. He has premiered more than twenty new works and collaborated with other orchestras, choirs and a dance company. In March, Principal Orchestra will present the iconic Carmina Buranawith the adult Mendelssohn Choir of CT at 3 p.m. at the Klein Auditorium in Bridgeport. GBYO is a resident performer at the Klein.
One of Connecticut’s leading conductors, Mr. Hisey has conducted throughout the United States, Europe and Mexico. He serves as the Music Director and Conductor of the American Chamber Orchestra, an ensemble he co-founded in 2003, and he formerly served as Music Director of the Civic Orchestra of New Haven. He has also been Music Director and Conductor of the Connecticut Valley Chamber Orchestra and Troupers Light Opera. He is a respected and sought-after music educator and maintains a position as the Director of Orchestras at Greens Farms Academy.
In his own words, Mr. Hisey describes the core value of GBYO as this: “Our belief that we can change students’ lives by exposing them to and unlocking their own personal creativity, by teaching them what it means to be a part of something larger than themselves and teaching them that there is beauty in the world. Our commitment to excellence in music education is steadfast and is the driving force behind everything that we do.”
Mr. Hisey, who grew up and attended school in Fairfield, now lives in Bridgeport with his wife, Heather and their four children, Lauren, Alex, Grace and James.
GBYO has provided advanced music education and performance opportunities to exceptionally motivated young musicians since 1961.The GBYO program is developmentally progressive, with nine ensembles, including five orchestras, giving students the opportunity to play at the highest level, both individually and collectively. 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.
GBYO members in grades 5-12 are selected by audition in June, August, and throughout the year, coming from more than 30 different communities in Connecticut. Rehearsals are held on weekends in Fairfield and at least three concerts per year are performed at the Klein Auditorium in Bridgeport. Special concerts and trips offer student musicians additional performance opportunities. Select GBYO orchestras have performed at Carnegie Hall, and have traveled to China, Italy, and most recently, Iceland and Scotland.