Winter/Spring Postcard

If you are not on the BSO’s snail mail list, but would like to see the Winter/Spring 2017 postcard, please click on the images below!


We hope to see you at the BSO’s Youthful Celebration concert on February 19 and the Music in 3D: #4 concert on April 2!


Announcing April Soloist :: Nygel Witherspoon

Nygel Witherspoon, Cello

Nygel Witherspoon, Cello

Fifteen year old cellist Nygel Witherspoon will perform the first movement of Dvo?ák’s Cello Concerto with the Bloomington Symphony at their Music in 3D: #4 concert on Sunday, April 2. The concert will be held at the Jefferson High School Auditorium in Bloomington at 3 p.m., and will be conducted by Music Director Manny Laureano.

Mr. Witherspoon is the Grand Prize winner of the Minnesota String and Orchestra Teacher’s Association (MNSOTA) Mary West Solo Competition, which was held in November 2016. The Grand Prize is a $250 cash award and the opportunity to solo with the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra.

To purchase tickets to the concert, please visit the Bloomington Box Office online or in person. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the door (cash or check only).


Musician’s Musing – December 2016

This month’s Musician’s Musings was written by BSO Board Member and first violinist, Kristin Brinkmann. 

Kristin Brinkmann, Violin

Kristin Brinkmann, Violin

As a fairly recent addition to the first violin section of the Bloomington Symphony (this is my third season), I have to say that it’s provided the perfect infusion of musical nourishment, which I desperately needed during a difficult time.  And it’s that continuing infusion of musical nourishment that keeps compelling me to get into my car way up in White Bear Lake, and trek all the way down to Bloomington on Sunday evenings for rehearsals.  For many years, I used to get into my car and make a similarly long trek to go and play with a different orchestra most days of the week – the Minnesota Orchestra.  Based on the various versions of my lifetime career model which used to run through my head, my car should still be driving me to Orchestra Hall and not to the Bloomington Symphony, although the BSO does feel quite a lot like the Minnesota Orchestra most of the time.  My fellow Minnesota Orchestra second violinist and frequent stand partner, Michael Sutton, is playing just a few feet away from me, and Manny Laureano is conducting, which he also did from time to time at the Minnesota Orchestra, when they would occasionally let him put down his trumpet for a few days.

Why does my car now drive me to the BSO, and not to Orchestra Hall?  First of all, it’s only a 2002 Honda Civic, so it’s technically not capable of taking me anywhere I haven’t decided to go.  It isn’t a cutting edge driverless vehicle whose computer brain got hacked and suddenly began driving me to the wrong orchestra one day.  Rather, it was my brain that got hacked over 15 years ago, and a neurobiological form of malware began running, which caused me to develop young-onset Parkinson’s disease when I was 33.  Parkinson’s is a neurological degenerative movement disorder, with some good treatments, but no cure at this time.  It is almost unthinkable for a violinist to suddenly face losing the voice we’ve spent our lives cultivating to a disease that causes you to lose motor control.  In most cases, we’ve spent our entire lives and countless hours in violin lessons, practicing, at workshops, music camps and music festivals, and have often completed multiple college degrees learning, among other things, how to consistently make unbelievably precise movements so that we have the technical ability to translate our soul, passion, musical ideas and creativity from our minds, through our bodies, and into a wooden box and a stick with some horse hair attached to it.  And Parkinson’s isn’t at all predictable.  The saying in the Parkinson’s community is, “The only thing that’s predictable about Parkinson’s is that it’s unpredictable”.

Kristin playing in nature

Kristin playing in nature

That’s what I was faced with early in my career with the Minnesota Orchestra, and I have to say that in many respects, things have gone much better than I ever imagined they could have 15 years ago.  I might be wrong, but I believe that the fact that I was already a professional violinist when I developed Parkinson’s has helped me stay as healthy as I am for so long.  But crazy things happen with no warning, and I’d be ready to walk out the door to play a concert at Orchestra Hall when my left arm and leg might suddenly go into severe tremors for no reason I could discern, and that could go on for 15 minutes to eight or more hours.  At that point, I often couldn’t really walk, much less open a violin case and pick up my violin without likely smashing it to smithereens.  After about a decade of having Parkinson’s while in the Minnesota Orchestra, the unpredictability and severe fatigue caused by the disease brought me to the point where I had to leave the job and the orchestra I loved so much, and I suddenly found myself without my “musical tribe”, and alone at home with a violin.  For about two years, I couldn’t listen to music.  At least not any of the music that I’d played before, or had hoped to play in the future.  Or music that reminded me of music that I’d played before or had hoped to play in the future.  We’ll call this my “Beatles Period.” And I didn’t practice very much for the some of the same reasons.  Add a few spine surgeries into this mix, and then the fact that there simply wasn’t anything to practice for.  No upcoming rehearsals or concerts!  This was the first time I’d ever had a calendar completely devoid of anything musical since I took my very first violin lesson!

That brings us back to the point where my car began driving me to the Bloomington Symphony for Sunday rehearsals.  I knew that I could still play really well when all things neurological and musculoskeletal aligned perfectly, and I’d had an ample amount of sleep, and when I’d taken my various Parkinson medications on the precise schedule I’d worked out over a decade earlier, and if I was just plain lucky that day.  And while some violinists in a similar situation might relish being alone to play the J.S. Bach Sonatas and Partitas for unaccompanied violin for whatever amount of time every few days that everything was working somewhat normally, I really missed playing in an orchestra!  I was already familiar with the BSO because several of my Minnesota Orchestra colleagues had been the concertmaster here over the years.  I went online to see where all of the community orchestras were rehearsing, who was conducting them, what music they were performing, and to familiarize myself with who was doing what where, and did White Bear Lake have an orchestra that I wasn’t aware of?  Once I saw that Manny Laureano was now conducting the BSO, and that Michael Sutton was the concertmaster, I knew that the BSO was where I needed to go!

I didn’t know whether I’d be able to play an entire rehearsal without some weird Parkinson’s movements starting up, and I can’t always do that.  And I didn’t know whether I’d be able to play every single rehearsal and concert, and I can’t.  But once I’ve gotten myself there and we begin to play, a part of myself I thought I might have lost forever reawakens!  I believe the first piece we played at the very first rehearsal I attended was the Wagner Overture to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg – a piece I’d played countless times since high school.  But it was as if I were playing for the very first time all over again!  Hearing the sound of the full orchestra around me again, and playing that first violin part that has you soaring up into stratosphere gave me more than anything that any of my favorite doctors or the best treatments could provide!  Another popular saying in the Parkinson’s community is “Exercise is medicine!”, and I firmly believe that to be true.  But in my case, the more important saying would be “Music is medicine”!

People ask me what it’s like playing in the BSO after having been in the Minnesota Orchestra, and I suspect that they think they know how I’m going to reply. We rehearse in a church basement instead of Orchestra Hall, we’re a far smaller group, and not everyone has had the same amount of musical training in their background.  But beginning with that first rehearsal three years ago, through to our most recent concert in the Schneider Theater on November 20, I have to say that there’s no difference at all in anything that really matters!  I feel the same rush and the same sense of accomplishment and comradery after having played well during a BSO rehearsal or performance as I did during and after my concerts with the Minnesota Orchestra!  I’m very fortunate to have found the BSO three years ago when I desperately needed musical nourishment after living in a musical desert for some time, and the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra has most definitely become my new “musical tribe”!



BSO & Beethoven Concert Preview No. 2

Before each concert, we share “Manny’s Musings,” thoughts from our Music Director and Conductor, Manny Laureano. This is the final edition of the “Musings” for the “BSO & Beethoven” concert that will be performed on Sunday, November 20, 2016.

Beethoven and His Seventh Symphony

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was born in Bonn, Germany and named aft er his grandfather. Neither parents nor grandparents could have known that their progeny would be the most critical link between the Classical period of music and the subsequent Romantic. He would turn formal music on its head with innovations that untied the hands of his contemporaries and set a new standard for those that followed.

His symphonies began innocently enough with his ?rst, following all the rules of sonata-allegro form. However, even in the elegant simplicity of this ?rst symphony in C major he left us with a new form of writing: the scherzo. Whereas a minuet was the norm for most symphonies in a moderate three quarter time, he increased the tempo dramatically and thus was born the brisk one-two-three that became so widely imitated by others that followed.

By the time December of 1813 rolled around, Beethoven had changed the meaning of the introduction for the ?rst movement of a symphony. In his third, two loud E? chords su?iced as introduction before launching into the exposition and for his ?fth, an angry outburst of four notes became the most famous in musical history becoming his signature forever.

So, it is interesting to observe that this Seventh Symphony goes back to his roots with a slow introduction of strong chords with woodwind solos suspended in mid-air as in his ?rst symphony. The introduction becomes a competitive game as the winds and strings toss sixteenth notes back and forth to each other. Eventually, what seems like an academic exercise becomes a cheerful dance that develops provocatively with gentility and sheer anger.

The second movement opens with the winds establishing a serious-sounding A minor. The lower strings set a pace that is oft en regarded as a funeral march but Beethoven never said any such thing. With a bit of imagination it can easily be perceived as a dance but with slow, measured steps that give way to a sunny major section. Back and forth, the major and minor struggle for dominance before the winds end the movement exactly as they began it.

The scherzo that Beethoven invented comes back in an infectious ?t of good humor that is a treat for the eyes as well as the ear in the way that motifs are thrown from player to player in an almost dizzying fashion. Beethoven uses the repeat to play a game with the listener involving the trio sections and a ?nal deceptive cadence that, well… let’s not spoil the surprise.

Finally, Beethoven proves his greatness with the ability to sustain a whirling dervish of rhythm and simple melodic material that never lets up in its intensity. He manages to develop two sixteenth notes and an eighth note… a fanfare, nothing more… and couple it with a string ?gure that spins into one of the most blazing ?nales in the symphonic literature.

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “BSO & Beethoven” featuring BSO Concertmaster Michael Sutton, who will play-conduct the Mozart Violin Concerto. The concert takes place on Sunday, November 20, 2016, at 3 p.m., at the Schneider Theater in Bloomington’s Center for the Arts.

To learn more about the concert, click here. You can order tickets online through the Bloomington Box Office or by calling 952-563-8575.


BSO & Beethoven – Concert Preview No. 1

Before each concert, we share “Manny’s Musings,” thoughts from our Music Director and Conductor, Manny Laureano. This is the first of the “Musings” for the “BSO & Beethoven” concert that will be performed on Sunday, November 20, 2016.

Overture to William Tell

Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868)

RossiniIt would fairly easy to argue that being able to essentially retire in your mid-thirties a millionaire and a household name is definitive of one’s professional success but that is precisely what the composer of the opera William Tell did. Born the son of a trumpet player in Pesaro, Italy, Rossini grew to be someone who lived to the fullest in many ways including making it to then the then-ripe old age of 76!

His early studies in music included learning the horn under his father and other instruments under the instruction of local priests. By the time he began more formal studies in the city of Bologna, to where the family had relocated, he was ready to receive vocal instruction and the requisite keyboard studies he would need. By 1806 he was accepted to the Liceo Musicale. His musical career truly had an ideal trajectory from that point. From his first opera, La Cambiale di Matrimonio to his final, William Tell, his rise was meteoric as he became the standard for simple and also florid, ornate melodies that challenged the singers of the day to expand their vocal technique in order to sing his music.

While his retirement was figurative rather than literal, he did some composing of non-operatic music including choral works, solo pieces, and chamber music. He enjoyed a vivacious social life and was something of a chef, creating recipes that were enjoyed by gourmands the most famous of which is Tournedos Rossini.

Mozart ColorWolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and his violin concerti

The name “Mozart” is one of those that is synonymous with great music. This comes with good reason as he was from the start a genius able to compose from the age of 5. He studied piano and violin and used these as conduits for his art writing over 600 works for varied combinations of musicians. Understand that many of these works were multi-movement in nature. Therefore, like J.S. Bach., Mozart’s output numbered in the thousands!

In specific regard to his violin-playing abilities, his father, Leopold, encouraged his teen-aged son to add more spirit and fire and play as though he were the greatest in all of Europe. Whether he did or didn’t remains to be seen. Nevertheless, his legacy includes five concerti for violin, the final three of which are the most popular of the set. He wrote the last four of the five in one astonishing year (1775) of composing. This, of course, is in addition to everything else he wrote that year.

The Fourth Concerto in D major has a spritely opening theme that has the characteristics of a trumpet fanfare. Leopold had tried in vain to get young Wolfgang to like the sound of the trumpet and perhaps this is a humorous reference to that lifelong disdain using an instrument he did love. The remaining themes are optimistic and exemplary of the charm we associate with Mozart’s writing.

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “BSO & Beethoven” featuring BSO Concertmaster Michael Sutton, who will play-conduct the Mozart Violin Concerto. The concert takes place on Sunday, November 20, 2016, at 3 p.m., at the Schneider Theater in Bloomington’s Center for the Ar.

To learn more about the concert, click here. You can order tickets online through the Bloomington Box Office or by calling 952-563-8575.


Give to the Max 2016 :: Video No. 1

Bloomington Symphony Orchestra principal horn Becky Jyrkas shares about what she loves most about the BSO and why community support is so important to her and the orchestra.

Watch and then give online to the Bloomington Symphony.


Musician’s Musing – October 2016

This month’s Musician’s Musings was written by BSO Board Member, Laila Stainbrook. Learn more about her journey from wee violinist to BSO clarinetist!


Laila Stainbrook performs at her first violin recital

It all started with a cereal box, a rubber band, and a stick. My journey into the world of being a musician that is. Thanks to the Suzuki program in Virginia, MN, and the persistence and patience of my mom, I had access to high quality musical training beginning with the violin at the ripe age of four years old.

When I graduated from variations on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to mastering Gossec’s Gavotte in Suzuki Book One, I earned the privilege to learn how to read music instead of learning by rote. Around then, I also began piano lessons in addition to my weekly violin lessons. I grew up with a piano in the house, and some of my earliest memories are sitting on the wooden bench tinkering around with the keys and making notations — really illegible scribbles — in my mom’s piano books. I would spend hours entertaining myself in a make believe world where I was both teacher and student.

My mom was active in our local community orchestra and sometimes played in the pit for local musical theater productions. In elementary school, I remember tagging along to many of those rehearsals and sitting in the empty auditorium, audience of one, listening while doing homework or reading. Already familiar with strings and the piano, these full orchestra rehearsals were my first exposure to seeing woodwind and brass players. I grew up listening to a lot of classical music, but it was something different to see the instruments and players in person. I was awestruck and immediately drawn to the shimmering beauty and flashy lines I heard coming from the flutes. When I had the opportunity to sign up to play a “band instrument” in the 4th grade, I knew immediately I wanted to play the flute. I hoped and wished my first choice would be granted. It was not. I don’t really remember how our music teacher talked me into the clarinet, or what other options he gave me, but I remember him convincing me it was very similar to the flute, and I should try it. Begrudgingly I agreed, though for months I secretly hoped enough of the flutes would drop out, and I would be allowed to switch.

My musical training continued through elementary and early middle school. I took private violin and piano lessons, and played the clarinet in the school band. And then the summer before 8th grade, my mom and I moved to Duluth. We found new violin and piano lesson teachers for me, and, for the first time, I began private lessons on the clarinet with Frank Garcia at the University of Minnesota — Duluth.

Frank was a San Diego transplant who had studied with legendary clarinetist Yehuda Gilad at the University of Southern California. A talented classical and jazz player, many said Frank’s tone reminded them of long­time Minnesota Orchestra clarinetist, Burt Hara. Listening to Frank play at my first lesson, I quickly realized I never knew what the clarinet could sound like before I heard him play. The clarity of his tone and sincerity of expression struck a chord in my heart and forever made me want to be a clarinetist. I get goosebumps even now thinking back to this experience. In the five years I spent studying with Frank, I fell more and more in love with the clarinet every day. It became hands down my favorite instrument to play. And while I enjoyed playing in my high school wind ensemble, nothing came close to the magic of playing the clarinet in an orchestra. I was able to play works ranging from Elgar to Borodin to Korsakov both in my high school orchestra and also as a part of the Duluth Superior Symphony Youth Orchestra. I believe as clarinetists we are lucky to be able to produce a tone that can either blend in subtly in a supporting role, or project and soar above the whole orchestra like no other voice.

After high school, I attended the University of Minnesota — Minneapolis. There I was able to study music and journalism, and continue with several music performance opportunities from the wind ensemble to campus orchestra to a woodwind quintet called the “Chamberpunks” that I formed with some close friends. I took clarinet lessons all through college, studying with Dr. John Anderson primarily during the school year and Burt Hara and Timothy Paradise during the summer.

Post college, I missed orchestral clarinet playing the most. It was a few years of searching and subbing with various ensembles before I had the opportunity to audition for a full-­time spot in the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra. Now nine years later, I feel incredibly fortunate to have found a group as talented and committed to artistic excellence as the BSO, and to once again play the clarinet in my favorite setting, the symphony orchestra.

The Sunny Era Band

The Sunny Era Band

And these days, I’m flexing a new musical muscle. Shortly after college, I began collaborating with my husband and dabbling in the world of indie rock. What started off as informal jam sessions has evolved into a five­piece rock band called The Sunny Era. I play violin, keyboards, accordion, and sing background vocals in the band. We just finished recording our fifth studio album to be released later this year. (more info at

Whether it’s playing the clarinet with the BSO or rocking out on stage with my band, I am forever grateful to all of the teachers and experiences I had to get me here, and I look forward to many more musical adventures to come!




Sara Kleinsasser Tan, General Manager
Bloomington Symphony Orchestra
Phone: 952-563-8573


Bloomington, Minnesota – September 21, 2016 — The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra (BSO) will present the first concert of the 2016-17 season, called “Experience the Ring,” on Sunday, October 9 at 3 p.m. at the Kennedy High School Auditorium (9701 Nicollet Ave S.) in Bloomington.

The program includes pieces from each of Richard Wagner’s four Ring Cycle operas, performed by orchestra alone and featuring a cast of ten singers and a narrator. Featured pieces include Entry of the Gods into Valhalla from Das Rheingold, Ride of the Valkyries from Die Walküre, Forest Murmurs and The Forging of the Sword, both from Siegfried, and Brünnhilde’s Immolation Scene from Götterdämmerung.

The cast includes local singers Sofia Ardalan, Lisa Drew, Debra Gilroy, Mary Laymon, Colleen Meier, Megan Wagner, Lola Watson, Karen Wilkerson, and Amy Wolf as the Valkyries. Chicago-based tenor Jerrad Fenske will perform as Siegfried. Former Metropolitan Opera soprano Audrey Stottler will narrate the concert, tying all of the pieces of the Ring Cycle together for the audience.

Music Director and Conductor Manny Laureano says of the program, “Set your imagination to work as the BSO, a cast of singers, and former Metropolitan Opera soprano Audrey Stottler reveal the beauty and power of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle through a set of excerpts and spoken narrative. Giants, mythical gods, heroes and heroines, villains, dragons, a magical sword, and a lump of coveted gold provide the story where deceit is overcome by an ultimate act of love and redemption, all set to some of the greatest music of the 19th century.”

Manny Laureano was named Artistic Director and Conductor of the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra in April 2013. Laureano is a gifted conductor, having served as Assistant Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra in 2005-06 and conducting the Minnesota All-State Orchestra in 2008-09. In recent years he has appeared regularly as a guest conductor at Indiana University, as well as at the Eastern Music Festival, St. Olaf College and Bethel University. He is in demand as a guest conductor of community orchestras all over the Twin Cities. In addition to this work, Laureano and his wife Claudette have served as Co-Artistic Directors of the Minnesota Youth Symphonies since 1988.

Season and single tickets for the BSO’s concerts are available in advance online, by phone or in person. Phone: 952-563-8575. Online: In person: Bloomington Box Office – 1800 West Old Shakopee Road, Bloomington. Season tickets are $48 for adults, $40 for seniors, advance purchase required. Single tickets are available in advance or at the door: $14 for adults, $12 for seniors and free for students with an ID.

For information or to request high-resolution photographs of Manny Laureano, the cast of singers or the BSO, contact:

Phone: 952-563-8573

The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1963. Today the BSO is made up of talented professional, semi-professional and amateur musicians who are selected through a highly competitive audition process. The BSO performs major symphony works at accessible church, school and park locations in the south and southwest Twin Cities metropolitan area.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

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2016-17 Brochure

Take a minute to view our 2016-17 season brochure! We are looking ahead to a great season and hope you will join us at one of the four outstanding concerts that Maestro Manny Laureano has planned for the Bloomington Symphony. Please share this page with your friends and fellow music lovers, too!


2016-17 Sponsorship Opportunities Announced!

The BSO is supported by members dues, grants from the City of Bloomington and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council but most importantly, it is supported by people like you! Donations of any amount are gratefully accepted and this year, we are launching a way for you to give and be recognized in a unique way!

This year, the BSO is offering patrons the opportunity to sponsor the rental or purchase of a piece of music, or to underwrite the soloist fee this season. The opportunities come at a variety of price points and offer many ways to be recognized. Perhaps you have a favorite piece of music or want to honor or memorialize a loved one by supporting the music or a musician. These are great ways to acknowledge your love for classical music!

We continue to offer chair and concert sponsorships, both of which help us continue to present concerts with the best soloists, creative programming and excellent musicians.

Click on either of the photos to learn more or download the PDF here.

2016-17 Fundraising Brochure - OUTSIDE 2016-17 Fundraising Brochure - INSIDE