Watch: Greater Bridgeport Symphony’s Majestic Performance In Vacant Downtown Theater

Two years ago Manhattan-based Exact Capital came to Bridgeport with a promise to resurrect two vacant theatrical jewels into their former glory as part of a Downtown renewal project that includes restoration of the adjoining Savoy Hotel and a large housing component as well. Whether that will materialize is anyone’s guess. One thing is for sure, that “Coming Soon” sign is getting old in this inexact deal.

In June 2017 Craig Livingston, managing partner of the commercial real estate firm Exact Capital joined city officials to announce a $400 million redevelopment of the shuttered and nostalgic Poli Palace and Majestic theaters Downtown that includes a performing arts center, entertainment and sports venue, preservation of the Savoy Hotel into 200 rooms, two 18-floor towers across the street, with retail and underground parking, that would become the tallest buildings in the central business district, and another 10 floors of housing units on Housatonic Avenue.

Mayor Joe Ganim made the theaters a key piece of his 2015 comeback campaign for mayor. Now he’s in a reelection year with the development financing in limbo.

It hasn’t stopped the Greater Bridgeport Symphony, whose regular home is the 1,400-seat gem Klein Memorial, from doing its part to add attention to what was once a destination for New York’s theater and pageantry. Kudos to OIB reader Frank Gyure for bringing this story to our attention.

A report from Classic FM:

A full symphony orchestra has performed Vaughan Williams‘ ‘The Lark Ascending‘ in an abandoned American theatre–and it’s completely mesmerizing.

In the video (watch above), the orchestra is seen to play 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, despite the devastating consequences of World War One.

Set at the mouth of the Pequonnock River on Long Island Sound, Bridgeport was also booming after World War Two, with dozens of theatres opening their doors to cater for the growing population.

Poli Theatres were among the most spectacular – including the elegant Palace Theatre, which held audiences of 3,600–and the 2,400-seat Majestic Theatre.

Full story here.

Share

8 comments

  1. Kudos to my brother, Mark Halstead, Director of the Bridgeport Symphony who was an inspiration for this and waded through the bureaucratic muck to facilitate this exceptional creative endeavor.
    Their expressions harken to a more enlightened era of Bridgeport’s past and the humanity that once presided here…it is a prayer for this city to come back.
    Sylvester Poli would be proud!

  2. Wonder..full is this presentation, the music itself, the musicians (who practiced, practiced and practiced some more) to know the music and perform it so well in this “unusual” space, a remainder (or reminder) of better times in Bridgeport, under the direction of GBS Music Director Eric Jacobsen. The performance in the ruins of the Majestic challenges the mind, spirit and pride of leaders in our community. Will they focus on dreams, plans and projects that miss their early timelines and keep communicating as to whether necessary changes are required. When open communication is missing and timelines are ignored, our community loses trust in OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE, TRANSPARENT and HONEST governance. Time will tell.

    1. Joseph Ganim as a young man, in his first term as Mayor, had a great many ideas. Not all of them were for public consumption. As a matter of fact, many of them focused on his private consumption, otherwise known as “public corruption”.
      Joe Ganim as a “returning citizen” from a significant prison sentence for being found guilty of said public corruption was a marked political commodity. He ran for Mayor and won the Mayoralty campaign in 2015. People liked his energy where any meeting could be a rally, but the majority of voters stayed away from the polls disbelieving the dreams shared and the story recited about second chances.
      Today, four years later, we know that Joe ran to establish a launching pad to be Governor of CT and nothing else. (He did not tell us that while campaigning.) Rather he told us taxes would not rise and education was important for City youth. Three stories wanting honesty it turns out???
      Taxable grand list down? Political aims of DTC leaders, especially Mario Testa? Status of EXACT financing and bloated timeline? Professional consultants get hired (without specific purposes revealed), paid, are not seen much about town, and the oracle at 999 Broad Street is silent? And now the doings of Park City Communities hits the front pages specifically with the situation of the Greene Homes…..what news has been reported in PCC Annual Reports to HUD in the past several years? How does Ganim2 stay informed through the appointment process to local boards and commissions? Time will tell.

Leave a Reply