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

Cantus Arcticus

If, while listening to the Cantus Arcticus by the late Einojuhani Rautavaara (1928-2016), you find yourself conjuring the rich bass voice of beloved actor Morgan Freeman to act as de facto narrator, do not feel self-conscious. It would be a natural occurrence, given the way you are embraced by the sounds of the work delivered both through live musicians and recorded sound. This concerto for birds and orchestra operates much in the way of a standard concerto for a solo instrument with orchestral accompaniment. It is conversational as well, with the occasional display of rarely heard bird calls. Vivaldi and Beethoven called us to understand that nature could be sensed through musical sounds in the Seasons and the Pastorale Symphony respectively. Respighi would go further by being the first to use the recorded sound of a nightingale in his Pines of Rome. Rautavaara sought to engulf us in the sounds of Arctic avians in order to assure that we would use our imaginations fully. The sounds incorporated in this work go from simple cooing sounds to rude squawks! The orchestra both accompanies and also imitates, just as one would when out in a field or forest encountering an interesting call from a hidden winged companion. Perhaps we do it to compete or merely communicate. This work will make you smile at the sounds of the birds and competing orchestral forces or even, perhaps, make you laugh. Either way, this piece will engage your ear as a zoological aviary would your eye.

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!

The BSO’s next concert, Suomi… How We Love You! will be one of many performances and special events celebrating Finland’s 100 years of independence. The BSO, led by Music Director and conductor Manny Laureano, is partnering with the Suomi Finland 100 Chorus, a special ensemble led by Eeva Savolainen, a graduate of the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. Ms. Savolainen has assembled a group of singers who are passionate about Finnish music and choral music, including musicians from the Bloomington Chorale and Angelica Cantanti’s Encore Singers, to perform for this once-in-a-lifetime event.

Please click here to learn more about the concert and order your tickets now!

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Arts in the Park Program Announcement

The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra and Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, invite you to attend our annual Arts in the Park performance presented by the City of Bloomington. Bring your lawn chairs or a blanket and pack a picnic dinner or purchase food onsite.

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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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