Greater Bridgeport Symphony’s “Lark Ascending” in a shuttered theater

Posted on: July 11, 2019

“A full symphony orchestra has performed Vaughan Williams’ ‘The Lark Ascending’ in an abandoned American theatre—and it’s completely mesmerizing,” writes Helena Asprou in Friday’s (7/5) Classic FM (U.K.). A video of the performance documents the Greater Bridgeport Symphony playing “within moldy walls and crumbling ceilings, but there’s a nostalgic story behind the choice of venue. Led by Music Director Eric Jacobsen and his brother Colin as first violinist, Greater Bridgeport Symphony performed the haunting piece to promote hope for the city of Bridgeport, Connecticut, following multiple theatre closures over the past few decades. In the 1920s, the historic seaport city was thriving and kept a strong industrial base…. After World War Two … dozens of theatres [opened] their doors … for the growing population … including the elegant Palace Theatre, which held audiences of 3,600—and the 2,400-seat Majestic Theatre. But by the 1960s, the industrial climate began to change as families moved out of the city to the quieter suburbs, leaving many of the theatres abandoned…. As well as being a poignant reminder of Bridgeport’s former arts scene, the orchestra’s enchanting performance at the Palace Theatre … also aims to offer a sign of hope.”

Posted July 11, 2019

In photo: Greater Bridgeport Symphony musicians with violinist Colin Jacobsen (center) at the abandoned Palace Theatre in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where they recently recorded Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending.