The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra’s mission is to contribute to the artistic and cultural life of the greater Twin Cities in three ways:
- By performing a wide variety of orchestral literature for concert-goers of all ages and backgrounds.
- By providing an organization for qualified musicians to develop their talents.
- By supporting music education through joint concerts with student musicians and coordination with educational groups the American String Teachers Association – MNSOTA chapter.
The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1963 by the City of Bloomington, to provide orchestral music for Bloomington’s citizens and as an organization where area instrumentalists could develop their musical skills. The founders were the City of Bloomington’s Parks & Recreation Director Gene Kelly and nationally renowned jazz musician Paul W. “Doc” Evans, who served as music director until 1977. Notable music directors since then have included Steven Amundson (St. Olaf College), William LaRue Jones (Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies and University of Iowa), Akira Mori (University of Minnesota), Joseph Schlefke, Cheung Chau and current conductor, Manny Laureano.
The BSO is made up of talented amateur and freelance professional musicians who are selected by competitive audition. The Orchestra presents 4-5 classical programs each season, and features instrumental soloists including competition-winning students, outstanding area college/university faculty and members of the Minnesota Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Summer brings outdoor pops concerts. The BSO performs an annual concert at the Lake Normandale Bandshell, as part of Bloomington’s SummerFete or its Arts in the Park series. These summer programs feature light classics, motion picture music and show tunes, often featuring area entertainers.
The Orchestra has collaborated extensively with other Bloomington-area arts groups. Choral collaborations with Bloomington’s children’s choir Angelica Cantanti and various adult choirs such as Normandale Choral Society have produced major works including: Orff’s Carmina Burana, Honneger’s King David Oratorio, Brahms’ German Requiem, Holst’s The Planets, Shostakovich’s Songs of the Forest, Durufle’s Requiem, and Mahler’s great Symphony #2 “Resurrection.” Kennedy High School’s award-winning women’s choir “Viva Voce” joined the with the BSO to perform Debussy’s Nocturnes. Bloomington’s Continental Ballet Company collaborated with the BSO for a fully staged production of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet. Chamber ensembles made up of players from the Orchestra are also active playing music for Bloomington events and organizations.
Outreach concerts to other Minnesota communities, such as Sleepy Eye, Shakopee, Eden Prairie and Jordan are another facet of the BSO’s efforts to reach people with classical music.
The BSO is a Minnesota non-profit corporation with the Section 501(C)(3) designation from the IRS.
The BSO is funded by corporate and private donors, fund-raisers, contributions from member-musicians, and an Arts Grant from the City of Bloomington. The orchestra is administered by a Board of Directors which includes both musician-members and community members.