“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. 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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“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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Live Performance of “Nimrod” from Enigma Variations

The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra with Manny Laureano, Music Director and Conductor, performs “Nimrod” from Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations on Sunday, February 25, 2018 at the Masonic Heritage Center in Bloomington, Minnesota.

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Encore: Beethoven’s 5th! – Order Tickets Today!

The BSO will present Encore: Beethoven’s 5th  on Sunday, November 19 at 7 p.m. Join us for this unique Bloomington Symphony Orchestra experience, where Maestro Manny Laureano will provide the audience with some additional insight from the famous symphony, followed by a full performance of the same. Then, after the concert, stay and ask questions about what you heard.

More information about the concert is here. You can order your tickets online here or call the Bloomington Box Office at 952-563-8575 to order over the phone.

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Kiitos! Thank You!

Thank you to all who attended the sold-out Bloomington Symphony Orchestra and Suomi Finland 100 Chorus concert at the Masonic Heritage Center on October 8!

If you are planning to attend future Bloomington Symphony Orchestra concerts, we urge you to order your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment on the day of the concert!

For the November concert, call the Artistry Box Office at 962-563-8575 or click here.

For the February and April concerts, call the Masonic Heritage Center Box Office at 952-948-6506 or click here.

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Suomi… How We Love You! :: Concert Preview No. 4

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 “Suomi… How We Love You!” concert that will be performed on Sunday, October 8, 2017.

 

Jean Sibelius, composer

I mentioned that one of the most powerful aspects of Jean Sibelius’ skills was the ability to inspire, and it’s true. We all understand the unique power of an anthem to roil the blood to action, to stir the heart from passive inactivity to rolling up a people’s collective sleeves.

In 1899, the man who would write Oma Maa and the descriptive Symphony in E minor would also, before the turn of the century, write a short piece so powerful that it is still, over one hundred years later, regarded as Finland’s “second national anthem.” Originally, it was to be titled “Finland Awakens” but because of governmental restrictions would hide under the name Impromptu. It was decided later to be known as “Suomi” in Finnish, or more familiarly to non-Finns, “Finlandia.” Even though the music was not conceived to have lyrics, they were added in 1941 at the consent of Sibelius by Koskeniemmi.

Every part of this music has deep meaning. From the grumbling anger in the low brasses and timpani and the emotive swelling in the strings, to the metaphorical train inviting those that wanted a free Finland to jump aboard, to the machine gun-like rhythms and triumphant voices in the middle and final bars, “Suomi” remains in its rightful place as a piece designed to remind Finns and non-Finns alike, that the gift of freedom is an earned one.

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “Suomi… How We Love You! featuring the Suomi Finland 100 Chorus, Eeva Savolainen, director, and the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra. The concert takes place on Sunday, October 8, 2017, 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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Suomi… How We Love You! :: Concert Preview No. 3

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 “Suomi… How We Love You!” concert that will be performed on Sunday, October 8, 2017.

Jean Sibelius, composer

While the Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Opus 39 is Sibelius’ first attempt at the form made famous by luminaries such as Beethoven, he showed that waiting for the relative maturity of 34 years would bring him an enviable skill for atmosphere, melody, rhythmic drive, and story-telling orchestrations.

The symphony, while not programmatic in the style of his Bavarian contemporary Richard Strauss, has images that are undeniable. “A cold wind blows in from the sea” gives us a chill and smell of ocean spray through careful use of rapid bows across strings, lonely rising and falling woodwinds, and well-placed pizzicati.

As Minnesotans that stay for our winters, we can relate to his idea for the second movement which operates under the assumption that “the pine of the North is dreaming of the palm of the South.” The textures are as soft as young fur to provide contrast for the jagged interjections from the brass. “The Winter’s Tale” takes us from the longing melancholy of the slow movement to a lively scherzo that has a primal dancing rhythm led by the timpani. The woodwinds gambol about, nymph-like in their renderings.

The last movement is a programmatic mystery, however. Sibelius abandoned, or so it seems, a literary reference that would supply him with what he needed to compose. So, what, then? It is unclear, but he left behind cryptic references to the French composer Hector Berlioz in the margins of his score. This finale is dramatic in the operatic and poetic style. It is in this movement that Sibelius truly shares the voice he is to have in so many subsequent works. The orchestra soars melodically and in such a familiar way when we consider so many of the later expansive themes we know from Sibelius’ output.

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “Suomi… How We Love You! featuring the Suomi Finland 100 Chorus, Eeva Savolainen, director, and the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra. The concert takes place on Sunday, October 8, 2017, 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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Suomi… How We Love You! :: 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 “Suomi… How We Love You!” concert that will be performed on Sunday, October 8, 2017.

Jean Sibelius, composer

The motivations and births of great works are as varied as the number of great composers writing them. The lovely ode to his homeland, Oma Maa, was an opportunity to do what he seemed to do best: inspire. Imagine watching your country come to the danger of having its soul torn apart to the point where you have to go into seclusion for your own protection and you’ll understand a bit of what Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) was experiencing during the time when he wrote Oma Maa. The title roughly translates to “My Homeland.” It was the time directly aft er the Russian revolution and Finns had become divided about the direction of their country and separated into the Red and White Guards. Understanding that he was living under threat by the Russian-influenced Red Guard, he stayed with his brother, a professor at a mental hospital in Lappviken. It was here that he penned the lovely, flowing, and quietly sentimental cantata to the country which he wished to see once again unified, buoyed by the fact that the days of the Red Guard seemed numbered.

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “Suomi… How We Love You! featuring the Suomi Finland 100 Chorus, Eeva Savolainen, director, and the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra. The concert takes place on Sunday, October 8, 2017, 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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