“Musical Milestones” Concert Preview No. 3

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 “Musical Milestones” concert that will be performed on Sunday, October 7, 2018.

La Mer by Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy, composer

It is always interesting to see how the visual arts and music seem to express themselves similarly through the ages. From the complex nature of Baroque paintings which often sought to render emotion without the benefit of great exaggeration to the suggestive Impressionist period, music seemed to be a willing accomplice at nearly the same times.

Great composers through the years have never been short on imagination. The greatest of those were always sure to compose and imply rather than hit you over the head with an idea. Whereas Renoir and Monet were content to let you do some of the work with your eye and your mind’s eye, so was Claude Debussy (1862-1918).

Active imaginations are occasionally fed by real-life experiences or desires. Debussy, whose father had been a proud member of the French Navy, would remark one day when it became clear that the maritime life was not in the cards, “…I’ve retained a sincere devotion to the sea. To which you’ll reply that the Atlantic doesn’t exactly wash the foothills of Burgundy …! And that the result could be one of those hack landscapes done in the studio! But I have innumerable memories, and those, in my view, are worth more than a reality…” So, perhaps it was a good thing that Debussy’s renderings in his colorful work, La Mer, benefited from what what his mind saw, rather than his eyes.

It can be easily argued that Debussy’s craft here led to the single greatest work of the Impressionist period even though, as often happens, the initial critical reception was not stunning. Even critics who were friendly to the composer could not wrap their brains around what they had just heard in 1905. With our contemporary ears, the salt air, the freshness of a welcome breeze, and the sound of fish playing below the surface is inescapable to the point where Minnesotans may recognize a section that was used to sell local spring water on a television commercial!


Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “Musical Milestones featuring Michael Sutton as soloist and conductor for Bach’s A Minor Violin Concerto. The concert takes place on Sunday, October 7, 2018, at 3 p.m., at the Gideon S. Ives Auditorium at the Masonic Heritage Center (11411 Masonic Home Drive, Bloomington)

To learn more about the concert, click here. You can order tickets online through the Masonic Heritage Center Box Office, or by calling 800.514.ETIX.

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“Musical Milestones” Concert Preview No. 2

Before each concert, we share “Manny’s Musings,” thoughts from our Music Director and Conductor, Manny Laureano. This is the second edition of the “Musings” for the “Musical Milestones” concert that will be performed on Sunday, October 7, 2018.

Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (aged 61) in a portrait by Elias Gottlob Haussmann.

You’re a composer and you love what you do. Furthermore, you want listeners to love what you do, because life is easier when you get a paycheck for doing what you love. Johann Sebastian (1685-1750) saw all of his musical output as a glory to God and he wrote music as a form of payback, whether secular or sacred in subject. So it stands to reason that helping people remember your themes through a clever technique called ritornello. The Italian ritornello means “little return” quite literally.

In other words, this technique which was used by Antonio Vivaldi, the Italian Baroque master, consisted of presenting a theme and bringing it back over and over but always with a hint of development to tease the ear and keep things interesting and compelling. Bach’s style in this first concerto for violin is almost aggressive in the way he pushes his themes at the listener as the intense conversation fairly rages between soloist and accompanying forces. The sweetness of the slow movement that follows in C major gives way to a lively dance in 9/8 time back in A minor.

Michael Sutton, Violin

Michael Sutton, Violin & Conductor
photo by Joel Larson


Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “Musical Milestones featuring Michael Sutton as soloist and conductor for Bach’s A Minor Violin Concerto. The concert takes place on Sunday, October 7, 2018, at 3 p.m., at the Gideon S. Ives Auditorium at the Masonic Heritage Center (11411 Masonic Home Drive, Bloomington)

To learn more about the concert, click here. You can order tickets online through the Masonic Heritage Center Box Office, or by calling 800.514.ETIX.

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“Musical Milestones” 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 edition of the “Musings” for the “Musical Milestones” concert that will be performed on Sunday, October 7, 2018.

Overture to Candide by Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein

Imagine a life that consists of working a decent job from 9 to 5, five days a week that has you looking forward to those blessed 2 weeks of vacation. There are promotions, a home upgrade or two, birthdays and graduations… all followed one day by a retirement and perhaps many days of earned fishing trips as you rest your head against the memories of a good life free of frequent drama.

The Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) that had one of the most productive 1954’s imaginable could never have sat still long enough to think of living a life as sedate as the one I described. In fact, this pianist/conductor/composer (put those in any order you like) from Lawrence, Massachusetts, was living a prolific and successful decade — one that could easily be the envy of any musician.

In that decade he composed minor and major works that helped develop the language that was clearly “Lenny” from a melodic and harmonic sense. Peter Pan, Trouble in Tahiti, Wonderful Town, the soundtrack for On the Waterfront and its corresponding orchestral suite, the Serenade for Violin and Orchestra, and finally, West Side Story were written and performed. All this while conducting ubiquitously, as well as being appointed to succeed Serge Koussevitsky as the head of conducting for the Tanglewood Music Festival, and producing television programs designed to educate all of America about classical music’s greatest works. He even allowed Felicia Montealegre to convince him that they should marry. Somehow, in the middle of all this, a collaboration with Lillian Hellman spawned a bitingly cynical bit of theater in 1956 called Candide.

Using Voltaire’s classic story as its basis, Bernstein managed to provide the perfect musical context to the acid-laced words from Hellman’s pen. Getting there was no easy feat, however, as the gallery of musical theater personalities all had different ideas about scenery, timing, and deadlines, and because Hellman had a reputation for taking her time. Of course, Bernstein didn’t help matters by going off to Rome to conduct opera performances with Maria Callas, leading to an interminable gestation for this wild musical child.

With Felicia now pregnant with their second child and bills piling up (the Bernstein’s knew how to spend money but saving it was not a huge priority) it truly is a wonder that the work ever got written. But written it was to tepid reception by the critics. It didn’t gain the respect it would eventually garner until the idea to engage noted Broadway Hal Prince in a much more successful revival in 1974. Prince was merciless in cutting what he felt was a bloated original version down to 105 minutes and preserving only the absolute best of the musical offerings.

The operetta brings to life the misadventures of a Professor Pangloss and his students Candide and his Cunegonde as they search for the best their lives can offer in this “best of all possible worlds.” They endure all manner of absurd hardships only to realize what Dorothy Gale learned with a click of her ruby slippers: After searching for their hearts’ desire, there really is no place like home.

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “Musical Milestones featuring Michael Sutton as soloist and conductor for Bach’s A Minor Violin Concerto. The concert takes place on Sunday, October 7, 2018, at 3 p.m., at the Gideon S. Ives Auditorium at the Masonic Heritage Center (11411 Masonic Home Drive, Bloomington)

To learn more about the concert, click here. You can order tickets online through the Masonic Heritage Center Box Office, or by calling 800.514.ETIX.

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Announcing the 2018-19 Concert Season

The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra is thrilled to announce the 2018-19 concert season, it’s sixth under Music Director and Conductor Manny  Laureano.

October 7, 2018 :: Musical Milestones || BUY TICKETS

November 18, 2018 :: Romantically Yours || BUY TICKETS

February 24, 2019 :: From Boisterous to Pastoral || BUY FLEX TICKETS

May 5, 2019 :: Music in 3D: #6 || BUY FLEX TICKETS

We are excited to perform works ranging from Bach to Bernstein. We hope you will join us for any or all of the season concerts. To learn more, click on the title of the concert and purchase tickets with the link to the right.

You can also click on the images below to download our 2018-19 Season Brochure.

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“Music in 3D: #5” Concert Preview No. 3

Before each concert, we share “Manny’s Musings,” thoughts from our Music Director and Conductor, Manny Laureano. This is the third edition of the “Musings” for the “Music in 3D: #5” concert that will be performed on Sunday, April 22, 2018.

Danse Macabre, Op. 40
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1922)

Camille Saint-Saëns, composer

Think of Camille Saint-Saëns as a 19th century composer version of actor Tom Hanks. That is to say that he not only had a wonderful talent for composing stirring and compelling works, but he was able to provide his audiences of both then and now with works that tremendously diverse in spirit and personality. The man that gave us a magical and witty Carnival of the Animals, a darkly majestic Organ Symphony, a peaceful and sensual 3rd Violin Concerto in B minor, and standard-setting A Minor Cello Concerto, would reach into his dark side and take us on a midnight trip to a graveyard for his most-played work, the Danse Macabre (1874).

While it is a tone poem, it is not heavy of plot. It is more about atmosphere with just a few clear indications of a tolling midnight bell (played subtly by the harp) and an early-morning cock crowing which is given voice by the solo oboe. He does provide us with some innovations to stir the imagination in the form of a solo violin with playing a strident tri-tone. He accomplishes this by having our concertmaster tune his open E string down to an Eb. This changes the familiar perfect 5th of the open E and A into the tri-tone originally referred to as diabolus in musica and banned by the church many centuries ago. Another new sound was that of the xylophone making its orchestral premiere in this work. Its brittle sound portrays the terpsichorean talents of the skeletons who take advantage of the lonely and deserted cemetery to revel until the morning sun threatens to reveal them.

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “Music in 3D: #5 featuring Katia Tesarczyk, violin, and winner of the Mary West Solo Competition sponsored by MNSOTA. The concert takes place on Sunday, April 22, 2018, at 3 p.m., at the Gideon S. Ives Auditorium at the Masonic Heritage Center (11411 Masonic Home Drive, Bloomington)

To learn more about the concert, click here. You can order tickets online through the Masonic Heritage Center Box Office, or by calling 800.514.ETIX.

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“Stories and Enigmas” :: Concert Preview No. 3

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 “Stories and Enigmas” concert that will be performed on Sunday, February 25, 2018.

Edward Elgar, Composer

Imagine you are a very strong country whose empire is so large that it would soon be said that the sun never set upon it, as there is always some part of the globe you conquered that’s lit up by some part of the sun’s rays. Not only that, you are the reigning monarch of the English language, as you have few that match you in your use of prose. An influential queen is on the throne. You rule the seas and all that. You have it all.

Not quite.

While the written arts were on display in every library on the planet, you do lack in a couple of areas that much of the world find important. There are no current household names that gave you equal notoriety in the art of painting nor that one other artistic endeavor: classical music. There are sea shanties and folk tunes that were recognizable across borders but symphonies and the like? Not so much.

And so it came to pass, that England was quietly in search of a national composer who would write music that the world found itself embracing. God provided in the form of one Edward Elgar (1857-1934) who was born to a family who owned a music shop. In essence, he was always surrounded by music and musicians. It also gave him the chance to learn several instruments, some nominally and others well. Of the ones he grasped with greatest intent were piano and violin.

Growing up Catholic in a predominantly Protestant area drew forth many of the same challenges that Gustav Mahler would find in terms of prejudices, except that Elgar found the strength to hold onto his faith through the woman he would eventually marry. She was his final and most enduring love, named Caroline Alice. Again, he bucked the traditional British class by marrying “up” while she, the daughter of a well-known major, married “down” for the time being, at least.

Slowly and impressively, Elgar honed his style until it became unmistakably his. The fullness and cleverness of his orchestration in the work, “Variations on an Original Theme,” known more familiarly as the “Enigma Variations,” are a marvel to anyone who studies the work in its written form. His use of dynamics, voicing balances, and the oh-so-right instrument choices are fodder for modern-day film composers. Every time you hear the piece it is like reading Shakespeare: you find something new with every hearing.

Thus, the British Empire would lay claim to a champion for the music of the concert hall and smaller venues with his chamber music, as well. He would also lay claim to that which is desired by every British boy and that was knighthood, as it happened for him in 1904. This honor was just the beginning of such that he would receive worldwide. How do we tend to honor him in America? Go to any college graduation and listen to the music played while the students process down the aisles and you will almost always hear a household tune always associated with that occasion: Pomp and Circumstance #1 in D major.

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “Stories and Enigmas featuring Michael Sutton, violin, and Gary Briggle, narrator. The concert takes place on Sunday, February 25, 2018, at 3 p.m., at the Gideon S. Ives Auditorium at the Masonic Heritage Center (11411 Masonic Home Drive, Bloomington)

To learn more about the concert, click here. You can order tickets online through the Masonic Heritage Center Box Office, or by calling 800.514.ETIX.

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“Stories and Enigmas” :: Concert Preview No. 2

Before each concert, we share “Manny’s Musings,” thoughts from our Music Director and Conductor, Manny Laureano. This is the first edition of the “Musings” for the “Stories and Enigmas” concert that will be performed on Sunday, February 25, 2018.

Camille Saint-Saens, composer

Relationships formed through music often turn out to be ones that are the motivation for great works and smaller, flashier works that also invite a look into the characteristics of a performer. “I like this about you and I’m going to exploit those things you do well in a piece I want to write for you.” I would imagine initial conversations about a proposed work go along those lines. Brahms had Joachim and Camille Saint Saëns (1835-1921) had Pablo de Sarasate whose virtuosity was a standard during the day.

Sarasate was a true musical prodigy with an ability to perform that were unquestionable beyond his years. Born among the bull bull runners of Pamplona, his father saw to it that he would begin his music studies early. Great musicians tend to meet over the course of their lives and the friendship that ensued between the two artists brought forth several larger works including two of Saint Saëns’ concerto and the very popular “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso.” The work is predominantly in A minor with a cheerful nod to a lighter dance-like section in C major that is clearly an acknowledgement to the Spanish heritage of his premiering soloist. In fact, the entire piece has that Moorish quality that may take us away from the usually bitter cold of our local weather and take us to sunnier climes!

Enjoy this preview of Michael rehearsing with the Bloomington Symphony – Manny Laureano, conductor

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “Stories and Enigmas featuring Michael Sutton, violin, and Gary Briggle, narrator. The concert takes place on Sunday, February 25, 2018, at 3 p.m., at the Gideon S. Ives Auditorium at the Masonic Heritage Center (11411 Masonic Home Drive, Bloomington)

To learn more about the concert, click here. You can order tickets online through the Masonic Heritage Center Box Office, or by calling 800.514.ETIX.

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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.

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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.

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Give to the Max 2016 – Michael Sutton

Hear from the Bloomington Symphony’s Concertmaster Michael Sutton!

Then, Give to the Max here!

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