GBYO’s Principal Orchestra is one of the most acclaimed youth ensembles in the region. The caliber of its 90+ members is confirmed by GBYO student selection for participation in Regional, All-State, All-New England, and National Music Festivals. The Principal Orchestra plays the world’s great symphonic literature at a high level of performance and musicianship. In addition to three scheduled concerts per year, the Principal Orchestra has performed throughout Connecticut and in a number of other states. In 2014, they performed at Carnegie Hall. In 2016, they performed the concert version of La Boheme and other works with the Greater Bridgeport Symphony. Principal Orchestra is conducted by Music Director Christopher Hisey.
Symphony Orchestra made its debut in the 1997-98 season. It was created to provide an opportunity for advanced players to continue to grow musically prior to moving into the Principal Orchestra. Symphony is conducted by Carrie Mascaro. In April 2017, Symphony Orchestra will play Peter & the Wolf as members of New England Ballet Company dance to original choreography of this classic.
Concert Orchestra was formed in 1980 to accommodate younger musicians who demonstrate an interest in a youth symphony experience. Concert Orchestra provides its musicians with the opportunity to perform at an advanced level while gaining valuable experience and training prior to entering the Symphony Orchestra. Concert is conducted by Erica Messina.
String Orchestra, formed in 1990, provides fundamental ensemble experience for GBYO’s youngest string musicians. It is conducted by Aaron Lofaro.
Wind Ensemble offers young woodwind, brass and percussion players focused training for performing with an orchestral sound and in orchestral keys. Wind Ensemble accepts “non-orchestral” instruments such as saxophones, bass clarinet, and baritone. Often, students who join Wind Ensemble playing a non-orchestral instrument find they love GBYO so much that they learn an orchestral instrument such as bassoon, trombone, or clarinet, so that they can move into Concert Orchestra and beyond. GBYO offers free lessons for one year to these students. Wind Ensemble is conducted by Brian Miller.
The GBYO Jazz Ensembles play jazz classics with a “Big Band” sound. Each contains four sections: saxophones, trumpets, trombones and rhythm (piano, bass, drums and guitar), with a few French horns, clarinets and flutes included to add to the sound. Throughout the ‘thirties and ‘forties, and well into ‘seventies, there were big bands traveling the U.S. and indeed, the world, playing for concerts, dances and festivals. The GBYO Jazz Ensembles seek to explore and perform repertoire from past and present in an integrated effort to keep this exciting musical medium alive and well. Both Jazz Ensembles meet after the other ensembles finish rehearsal. Students who wish to audition for Jazz must be enrolled in one of the other GBYO ensembles. Jazz Ensemble 1 is conducted by renowned jazz pianist Dr. Rex Cadwallader and is for more experienced musicians. Because of the popularity of GBYO’s Jazz program, a second Jazz Ensemble was created for the 2017-18 season.