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Greater Bridgeport Symphony says bittersweet goodbye to its maestro

Photo of conductor Eric Jacobsen holding a conducting baton.
Provided photograph
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Greater Bridgeport Symphony
Eric Jacobsen

The Greater Bridgeport Symphony is saying goodbye to its beloved conductor Eric Jacobsen. April 8 will be the final concert Jacobsen performs in the role of maestro he’s held for nine seasons. The concert will mark the end of the symphony’s 77th season. Jacobsen joined GBS, as it is known, in 2014 and colleagues said he will be remembered for his exuberant energy, his close connection to the community and, of course, the music.

“They loved him from the beginning,” said Mark Halstead, executive director of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony.“The audience really fell for him very early.”

Jacobsen first came to the Greater Bridgeport Symphony podium in 2014, following in the formidable footprints of Gustav Meier. Meier had been the Greater Bridgeport Symphony conductor for 42 years and was known throughout the musical world. While Meier left behind an impactful legacy, Eric Jacobsen brought to the role a renewed sense of vitality.

“They just came out with new energy,” Halstead said. “We did see in the first two or three years, a marked increase in our audience. So we knew that this approach of some newer music and some things a bit daring was working.”

Jacobsen grew up in a musical family and is a renowned cello player, which gives him an innate understanding of a major section of the orchestra. His colleagues said he embodies everything that is gentle and joyful and happy about making music.

“People feel like he took them into his own mind and heart, and that made such a difference,” Halstead said.

Halstead added that one of Jacobsen’s greatest legacies was how he brought music to the community.

“One of his first real concerts with us was an outdoor concert at Seaside Park in Bridgeport to reintroduce the symphony to people who hadn't been in a concert like that in years,” Halstead said. “He reintroduced the symphony to the general public.”

It wasn’t just the community outreach that set Jacobsen apart, but also his commitment to introducing the symphony to a new generation of young people with new initiatives, including taking the symphony into schools and other places outside the symphony auditorium walls.

Jacobsen’s final performance will be Saturday, April 8, at the Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport. Tickets are available at the Greater Bridgeport Symphony website. A successor to Jacobsen is expected to be announced soon.

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