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

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 “Music in 3D: #5” concert that will be performed on Sunday, April 22, 2018.

La valse
Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

It is a delicious irony of a musical life that Maurice Ravel, an Impressionist composer of colors and atmosphere, was so fastidious in the way he did things. This talented, artistic, bachelor “neat freak” might have easily played the role of Felix Ungar had Neil Simon been around at the time.

If one were to open a score to his atmospheric 2nd Suite to Daphnis and Chloe, the eyes would be immediately met by an array of notes so seemingly complex that one would have to wonder how musicians were able to play the thing at all! So it is with his tribute to (and destruction of) the Viennese waltz of the day, La Valse (1920).

It begins with a quiet grumbling in the basses, divided to trill and then play pizzicati that serve as the heartbeat that gives the waltz it’s first life. You might be tempted to scream out loud “It’s alive!” but hold on, for this is just the beginning. He uses his brilliant understanding of orchestration and mind-numbing detail to create a mist-like veil that is lifted slowly like a sunrise to eventually reveal first light. It’s not really about one waltz but, in the manner of Johann Strauss Jr., it is several waltzes played one after the other, some with smooth transitions and others not.

Originally conceived as a ballet, it has received many, many more performances as a showpiece for orchestras showing off their myriad talents and section sonorities. It is all superbly organized to take both orchestra and listener on what is at first a comfortable ride of sensual swings and loops only to become a demonic exaggeration that ends with a comic punchline in 4/4 rather than three quarter time. Advisedly, I say to be wary of finding any deeper meaning in this music than what it is: taking an emotion to its zenith. That said, when you hear the original theme return… buckle up!

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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“Music in 3D: #5” 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 “Music in 3D: #5” concert that will be performed on Sunday, April 22, 2018.

Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Composer

How much we are in the debt of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy? Never mind his own great compositions such as the the string symphonies he wrote between the tender ages of 12 and 14, or his lyrical Piano Concerto in G minor. Forget his Fourth Symphony (so-named the Italian) which, even though written in an elegant classical style, broke rules by being still the only symphony to begin in a major key only to end in an explosive minor saltarello. We won’t mention his contribution to the field of oratorios with his piously beautiful Elijah.

If all he had done was to bring back the music of Johann Sebastian Bach to the consciousness of the music-loving public, as he did with his performance of the St. Matthew Passion it would have been enough to secure his place in musical history… but no. He also managed to write the most easily recognized violin concerto in history with his E minor concerto. While he conceived the piece in 1838, he was not able to finish it until quite some time later–in 1844–for his close musical associate and friend, Ferdinand David.

This music is sweet without being maudlin or overdone. It is bold without being brash. It’s first-movement cadenza follows a classical approach without self-indulgent pyrotechnics. It has spoken quite well for itself as a standard-bearer for great violinists for about 170 years!

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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“Music in 3D: #5” 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 “Music in 3D: #5” concert that will be performed on Sunday, April 22, 2018.

Rakoczy March from The Damnation of Faust, Op. 24
Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)

Hector Berlioz, Composer

When Hector Berlioz wrote his work, The Damnation of Faust, he took a risk by writing a hybrid work. It traversed the worlds of both grand cantata and opera and the audiences that attended the first performances weren’t quite sure what to do with it. He likely would have preferred clear dislike of the piece but was more upset by what was indifference by the opera-going Parisians. After all, the novel was something that had provided Berlioz with his latest obsession. In human terms, it is easy to understand why the lack of validation for his interest would be disappointing to him. Time changes hearts and minds and the construction and thematic material became more appreciated as evidenced by the many performances that happen world-wide on a yearly basis.

The Hungarian March or Rakoczy was added to accentuate the cynicism that was a part of Faust’s character. This march, which was written earlier and separate from the opera, provides Faust with the opportunity to wonder how soldiers could be so infernally happy (see what I did there?) when he perceived life to be so useless and bereft of anything to celebrate, much less being an enlisted man.

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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“Music in 3D: #4” Concert Preview No. 4

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 “Music in 3D: #4” concert that will be performed on Sunday, April 2, 2017.

Berlioz and his Dream Girl(s) {part 2 of 2}

Read the first part of this Musings here.

It takes him five separate movements, each one so well-written that it could stand alone, to describe a story of passion, tenderness, anger, and chilling terror.

Estelle, the object of Berlioz’s affections

The work opens with a self-reflective raising of the curtain and a theme in the violins that actually dates back to his first love Estelle, and eventually gives way to a joyous theme of love that makes its appearance in every movement in some mutated form. This is known as the idée fixe. The theme develops and Berlioz takes us on a wild ride of passion that seeks religious redemption at the end of the movement. The waltz that follows is a first date of sorts. and we know he’s with his Dream Girl as soon as we here the idée fixe. The walk in the country that serves as he third movement is a beautiful nod to Beethoven replete with dueling double reeds, each on their own hillsides, one near, one far. Dark thoughts invade the artists mind as he rages jealously. One of the shepherds returns, only to have his song mocked by looming thunderclouds.

Those thunderclouds tell us the honeymoon’s over as the artist has been sentenced to death for killing his Dream Girl while under the influence of a controlled substance. Don’t do drugs, kids. The artist is not just marched to the scaffold, rather he is pushed to it, as the gathered public wants blood—lots of it. Just before his head goes for a bouncing jaunt down the steps in 4/4 time, he thinks of his Dream Girl one last time.

As in a bad Hollywood horror movie, our artist comes back to find that his Dream Girl is now a witch and she’s come back with a coven of friends. Berlioz goes all out with cackling sounds, bells of doom, a Dies Irae theme that shows God is NOT happy, and the wood part of bows striking strings in order to paint a frightening picture of love gone wrong.

But what of that first sweetheart, Estelle? It turns out that she and Berlioz were reunited as friends and companions very late in their lives. This welcome relationship came after all three of Berlioz’s wives died prematurely as did Estelle’s husband. A happier ending than the Symphonie!

Nygel Witherspoon, Cello

Nygel Witherspoon, Cello

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “Music in 3D: #4” featuring cellist Nygel Witherspoon, winner of MNSOTA’s Mary West Solo Competition. The concert takes place on Sunday, April 2, 2017, at 3 p.m., at the Jefferson High School Auditorium (4001 West 102nd Street, Bloomington)

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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“Music in 3D: #4” 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: #4” concert that will be performed on Sunday, April 2, 2017.

Berlioz and his Dream Girl(s) {part 1 of 2}

Hector Berlioz

If love is the sickness, then composing is the cure, or such was the experience of a young Hector Berlioz (1803-1866) who, from the start, was the quintessential incurable romantic. Lucky thing, that, as France and the rest of Europe were well into the throes of the Romantic era by 1930, when the Symphonie fantastique was premiered. Berlioz discovered love and its partner, jealousy, in the form of a comely 18-year old summer neighbor named Estelle when he was 12 years old. Think about Michael Corleone being struck by “The Thunderbolt” in The Godfather and you will have an idea of how the boy felt. Estelle was amused and flattered but a relationship was out of the question… for the moment. Also, bear in mind that Berlioz began his musical studies at that very age, rather than much earlier as we are accustomed to hear about the great composers.

Berlioz was not shy about his passionate nature as he grew older, either. He was engaged to be married to a Mlle. Estelle Moke, but while he was away studying music in Italy he received a letter from his would-be mother-in-law informing him the marriage was off. Berlioz flew into a rage and plotted a triple murder and suicide plot involving elaborate disguises and double-barreled pistols. He cooled off and continued studying.

This personality had produced a tremendous work that was based on “The Life of a Young Artist” the year before. In fact, Berlioz had single-handedly, over the early years of his composing, changed the size and orchestration of the 19th century orchestra. Imagine a piece of music from the first third of the 19th century that features two harps, an English horn and an E? clarinet, a piccolo, two cornets and trumpets, two tubas, two sets of timpani, and two Liberty Bell-style bells, in addition to the rest of a large orchestra and you have the ingredients for his Symphonie fantastique, a five-movement foray into intimate and extroverted passion.

His now-familiar relationship with actress Harriet Smithson makes more sense given what we’ve learned about his personality before and after the Symphonie. He was obsessed with her and sent letters that went unanswered and put on concerts to attract her attention. He finally woke up from his dream when he was informed of rumors involving Smithson and her manager. It was that jolt which drove him to write… and write he did.

{Part 2 will be posted on March 30}

Nygel Witherspoon, Cello

Nygel Witherspoon, Cello

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “Music in 3D: #4” featuring cellist Nygel Witherspoon, winner of MNSOTA’s Mary West Solo Competition. The concert takes place on Sunday, April 2, 2017, at 3 p.m., at the Jefferson High School Auditorium (4001 West 102nd Street, Bloomington)

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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“Music in 3D: #4” 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 “Music in 3D: #4” concert that will be performed on Sunday, April 2, 2017.

Concerto for ‘Cello in B minor by Antonín Dvorák

Antonín Dvorák

Some composers find their niches quickly and write defining pieces soon in their careers. Others learn more and truly deliver the works that become associated with their names, later in life. This was certainly true of this magnificent work for ‘cello by Antonín Dvorák (1841 – 1904). He had written a piano concerto which has gone into the dustbin of musical history. His next effort, the Concerto for Violin in A minor, has become somewhat of a standard for great soloists, but has not occupied the same place as those by Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Sibelius, Beethoven, or Mozart. To be sure, when one hears the Violin Concerto, it leaves one wondering why it’s not heard with greater frequency.

The fact is that Dvorák simply didn’t believe that the solo ‘cello was a powerful or compelling enough voice to soar over the body of an orchestra. Fate took a hand, however, when he decided to go to hear a premiere by a composer and education colleague at New York City’s National Conservatory, where Dvorák served as director. That colleague was Victor Herbert, whose Cello Concerto convinced Dvorák that he had been under a misconception. Dvorák set to work for two years, and in 1896 was able to have the noted English ‘cellist, Leo Stern, play the solo part at a premiere performance in London that changed the world order for the instrument forever.

In listening to the first movement, one is truly struck by the conversational quality of the relationship between orchestra and soloist. The opening is generous and takes its time introducing the solo voice of the ‘cello. When the ‘cello enters, its voice is stentorian and poetic. It shifts from anguished to playful to thoughtful, all the while demanding the best in the soloist’s technical prowess. This movement gives us a peek at a beautiful work of art that occupies a solid place in the repertoire.

Nygel Witherspoon, Cello

Nygel Witherspoon, Cello

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “Music in 3D: #4” featuring cellist Nygel Witherspoon, winner of MNSOTA’s Mary West Solo Competition. The concert takes place on Sunday, April 2, 2017, at 3 p.m., at the Jefferson High School Auditorium (4001 West 102nd Street, Bloomington)

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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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!

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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).

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“Music in 3D: Part Three” 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 of three “Musings” for the “Music in 3D: Part Three” concert that will be performed on April 17, 2016.

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Minor Op. 47, by Jean Sibelius

Jean Sibelius, composer

Jean Sibelius, composer

My first encounter with this concerto of Sibelius (1865-1957) was as a student at the Juilliard School. It was completely unfamiliar to me yet it gripped me from the start. This piece, which took about three years (1902-1905) to write and revise, speaks poetically and passionately from beginning to end. From its indistinct and humble opening that speaks sensuously, scales and arpeggios and octaves that seem to mock hard-working students, and a brusque theme that is evocative of a masculine bar song sung by Nordic fishermen, Sibelius claims a rightful title as not only the greatest of all Finnish composers but as one of the most thoughtful composers in history.

Louisa Woodfull-Harris, Violin

Louisa Woodfull-Harris, Violin

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “Music in 3D: Part Three” featuring violinist Louisa Woodfull-Harris, winner of the Mary West Solo Competition sponsored by the Minnesota String and Orchestra Teachers Association. The concert takes place on Sunday, April 17 at 3 p.m. at the St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington.

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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“Music in 3D: The Sequel” Concert Preview No. 1

Before each concert, we share Manny’s Musings, thoughts from our Music Director and Conductor, Manny Laureano. Please enjoy this concert preview and check back next week for more of “Manny’s Musings”!

The story of Le Chasseur Maudit (1883) comes to us from a poem by Gottfried Berger, a German writer from the late 1700s who had borrowed and altered the original Norse legend of “The Wild Hunter.”

Cesar Franck, composer

Cesar Franck, composer

From the start, let’s be clear about one thing: the “Accursed Hunter” Frenchman Cesar Franck portrays in his tone poem has not a particularly winning personality. A devoted Catholic church organist, Franck provides for us a vivid musical cautionary tale about observing the Sabbath. The Huntsman has a fairly odious habit of going hunting on the Lord’s Day despite the presence of a White Knight who appears to admonish him not to do so for once but an influential Black Knight helps the Hunter choose otherwise.

Strike one.

On his way to the forest he is beseeched by an old woman to not travel through her field with his entourage of horses and men for it would surely ruin her harvest. Once again, the White Knight appeals to him to do the right thing only to be subverted by the Black Knight. The Hunter runs roughshod over the woman’s field and ruins her future meager earnings.

Strike two.

The Hunter finds his prey in short order, a beautiful stag, who seeks refuge in the home of an old hermit. The hermit makes an impassioned plea on behalf of the animal but the Hunter’s heart is tainted beyond repair and remorse. He orders the old man’s house burned in order to smoke the animal out so it can be taken as his prize.

Strike three

Strike three.
The Hermit is killed in the fire and at the moment he dies the Hunter finds himself changing, his very soul transfiguring into that of a phantom. He is surrounded by the most evil of spirits but particularly those of his once-loyal dogs who have now been charged with chasing him through eternity with a yearning to tear him to shreds.

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “Music in 3D: The Sequel” featuring Sara Melissa Aldana, winner of the CodaBow prize at the Mary West Solo Competition, as soloist. The concert takes place on Sunday, April 19 at 3 p.m. at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington. To learn more about the concert, click here, or to order tickets online through the Bloomington Box Office or by calling 952-563-8575.

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