Musician’s Musings – March 2016

This month’s Musician’s Musings might better be called “Manager’s Musings,” since it was written by our General Manager, Sara Tan. We hope you enjoy the chance to learn more about a person who helps the BSO to do what we do – make great music!

The Long and Winding Path

by Sara Kleinsasser Tan

SaraI remember the moment when I had the revelation: I was sitting in a Music History exam at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. I suddenly and somewhat inexplicably thought, “I want to be the Education Director a major orchestra.” Until that point I had only considered being a middle school or high school band director. The entire trajectory of my life had been pointing in the direction of Music Education and teaching band in a public school, so to have such a sudden change of heart was surprising.

Two years later, while chaperoning a middle school orchestra trip, I met Gary Alan Wood, the Education Director at the Minnesota Orchestra. He and I chatted for awhile and I boldly told him, “I want your job.” A decade later, I started working with the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, one of the Twin Cities’ finest community orchestras. While not in the education department, nor at a “major” orchestra, being the General Manager of the BSO been a wonderful fit for my passion to support the arts in my community. It also allows me to work while caring for my two children, ages five and three.

The positions that led me here helped prepare me for this very job. I taught beginning and middle school band in southern Minnesota for a year, then returned to my alma mater, Concordia, where I led domestic and international concert tours for the band and orchestra. After that, I spent a year working as the Artistic Coordinator for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, then moved to Cleveland, Ohio where I worked in the Education Department at the second-largest performing arts center in America, Playhouse Square. My husband attended the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and while there, I worked with the leadership programs for MBA and BBA students.

During my brief tenure as a public school teacher, I gained a deep empathy for what music educators do. I’m especially grateful for the wonderful musicians and teachers who the BSO partners with every year for the Bloomington Orchestra Festival.

While in Detroit, I worked with dozens of classical, jazz and pops guest artists and conductors, including the Beaux Arts Trio, Dawn Upshaw, Oscar Peterson, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Mark Wigglesworth, Itzhak Perlman, k.d. lang, and John Lithgow. I spent hours with these artists, driving them to the concert hall, learning more about their artistic and personal lives. I learned the importance of contracts and navigated the complicated process of obtaining artist visas.

My experience at Playhouse Square was much more rooted in theater, but I learned a great deal about working with a team of passionate individuals, true community outreach and the beauty of work that is being created for young audiences all over the world. At the Ross School of Business, I led a team and had a chance to flex my creative muscle while developing new and innovative programs for the world’s top MBA students.

After relocating to the Twin Cities in 2009, I took some time off to start my family, but a chance encounter with a BSO musician led me to take on the challenge of managing the BSO. In my day-to-day work I make sure the bills get paid, make sure the librarian has music to distribute, correspond with musicians and community members, and make sure venues are secured. I work closely with the Board of Directors to help accomplish their goals and am in close communication with the Music Director to assure he has what he needs to accomplish his musical goals.

This position allows me to exercise my mind – and on concert days, my feet! – and do work that doesn’t always feel like work. I feel fortunate to be in a position where I can do work that is important, while learning and growing myself and supporting such a great community asset. I hope you will join me in supporting the BSO in some way – Maybe you’ll audition to play, join the board, make a donation or attend a concert. No matter what you do, your time and effort is valuable to the BSO.

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Musician’s Musings – February 2016

This month’s musings features Brianna Wassink, violinist with the Bloomington Symphony. We are grateful to Brianna for being brave and sharing her story. We hope you enjoy this Musician’s Musings!

Brianna Wassink, age 6

Brianna Wassink, age 6

I’ve always been shy.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned ways to overcome my shyness, but it’s always there and definitely a part of my personality.  As much as I wish sometimes that I was more naturally outgoing, I have my shyness to thank for my career as a violinist and orchestra teacher.

I started taking violin lessons when I was in Kindergarten.  At the time, my school district (Wayzata Public Schools) had a K-12 strings program.  On the first day of school, they took all of us kindergarteners into the cafeteria and the orchestra teachers demonstrated the four string instruments for us.  I was immediately obsessed with the idea of playing the violin.  I came home that afternoon and very resolutely told my mom that I was going to play the violin.  She laughed, of course, at the curly-haired kindergartener standing in front of her making such a sweeping statement.  She probably figured I would forget about it in a day or two and go back to the previous week’s obsession of getting a pony for Christmas from Santa and taking riding lessons– typical 5 year-old stuff, right?  I didn’t forget, though.  I kept asking and asking, and finally she agreed… “Yes, Brianna, you can take violin lessons.”

That was 25 years ago.  Little did we know, my mom’s decision to allow me to start taking violin lessons would change the course of my life.  I played violin all through high school, then went to Luther College and earned a Bachelor’s degree in K-12 Instrumental Music Education.  I joined the BSO in 2007 when I moved back to the Twin Cities after college, and I’m happy to now be on the Board of Directors. Professionally, I’m teaching 4th, 5th, and 6th grade orchestra in the Roseville Public School district, teaching 550 students how to play the violin, viola, cello and bass. It’s a lot of work, but I love what I do and it’s very rewarding.

That last paragraph almost didn’t happen, though, thanks to my shyness.  Not long after starting those violin lessons, I came to the realization that playing a violin is actually pretty difficult.  You can’t just pick it up and all of a sudden play really well… It takes a lot of time, practice, and effort.  Funny how kindergarteners don’t think of things like that when they decide to start a new instrument, isn’t it?

Over the years, there were many times I wanted to quit.  It was too hard, it was too frustrating, I was never going to get it.  My mom, in all her wisdom, always responded the same way: “Fine, but you need to be the one to tell Mrs. Loing.”  Mrs. Loing was my violin teacher from kindergarten until 5th grade, and I adored her.  She was kind, patient, and understanding, but always had high expectations.  I’m still grateful to her for showing me how to teach that way, long before I had any idea that I would someday become an orchestra teacher myself.  I couldn’t fathom having to tell Mrs. Loing that I wanted to quit; she would be so disappointed in me.  So, thanks to that shyness that has plagued me my entire life, I never worked up the courage to tell Mrs. Loing I wanted to quit.  So, I just kept playing.

After a while, with practice and Mrs. Loing by my side, it eventually started to get better… I could hear myself improving, I played great music and made great friends playing in my school orchestras and local youth symphonies, and my cat wasn’t running to the other room every time my violin came out of the case anymore!

Before I knew it, I was a violinist.  A shy violinist, yes.  But a violinist nonetheless.  It’s my hobby, my career, and my passion all rolled into one amazing experience. I’m grateful to be a part of the BSO, and for the wonderful friendships I’ve developed over the years, and the beautiful music we’ve made together.

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Musician’s Musings – December 2015

Peter Chang, BSO viola and violin

Peter Chang, BSO viola and violin

Today we welcome Peter Chang, acting principal viola and violinist with the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, to this month’s Musician’s Musings. We are enjoying the chance to feature thoughts from our musicians and hope you enjoy the same. 

Five Enchantingly Beautiful Orchestral Melodies That You May Not Have Heard Of

You’re probably no stranger to major composers like Mahler, Debussy and Brahms. There are favorites in the orchestral repertoire that frequently get the spotlight, but the world of classical music is so vast that it’s a shame not to explore the fringes.

Here is my list of five lesser known gems to add to your listening list:

Arthur Foote; 4 Character Pieces (Op. 48) – Andante Comodo

American composer, Arthur Foote’s 4 Character Pieces was based off a Persian selection of poems, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. To reflect the Middle Eastern nature of the work, Foote makes use of a Phrygian mode to great effect.

You can listen to this piece here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GgLzAYoIrA

Carl Nielsen; Symphony No. 2 (Op. 16) Mvt. 3

Symphony No. 2 titled the Four Temperaments is Carl Nielsen’s musical characterizations of four strangely specific moods such as “Choleric” and “Phlegmatic” (both of which I had to Google). Not the moods I would have picked, but I’ve written no symphonies. Movement three is “Melancholic”.

You can listen to this piece here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyOPmJhFego&feature=youtu.be&t=14m41s

Kalinnikov; Symphony No 1 Mvt. 2

This Symphony was written by Vasily Kalinnikov when he was 28. The second movement is surprisingly sublime when compared to the rest of the work, which tends to sounds like the work of a young composer.

You can listen to this piece here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVakXOkE2G4&feature=youtu.be&t=14m27s

Aram Khachaturian; Spartacus Suite No. 2 – Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia

From the Ballet of the same name. Spartacus and wife escape from captivity and enjoy a well earned happy moment alone to this tune.

You can listen to this piece here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=of5ebCY5__Q

Shostakovich; Piano Concerto No. 2 Mov. 2

This famous piano concerto doesn’t fit the ‘obscure’ descriptor quite as well as the rest of this list. Plus one could argue a piano concerto is not a purely orchestral composition. It is however, most definitely enchantingly beautiful.

You can listen to this piece here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlMHjo7Jwhk

Have you heard of any of these before?

What other pieces can you add to the list?

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Musician’s Musings – November 2015

Welcome to the first of the Bloomington Symphony’s Musician’s Musings! This new feature will be posted on the first Monday of the month and will highlight one of the BSO’s players. We hope you enjoy the chance to get to know the stories behind some of the names and faces you see at our concerts. 

Becky Jyrkas, Principal Horn

Becky Jyrkas, Principal Horn

My Horn Story

by Becky Jyrkas, BSO Principal Horn

I am often asked – why did you choose the horn as your instrument?  Here is my story:

Just like every 5th grader in my town, we had an evening to see and touch instruments before choosing one that we would play for the whole school year.  What that elementary band director didn’t know was that I had already chosen the horn.

My mom played horn through college and still had an old instrument in the basement.  It smelled a little funny, but it was really neat looking with all of that curved metal.  Mom would play it occasionally, but she would keep saying she was out of shape (I didn’t know what that meant, but now I do!)  I also like to say that my parents brainwashed me by often playing the Mozart Horn Concerto records (yes, records!) as background music.

So there I was, a 5th grader choosing the horn.  The band director was thrilled since all of the other girls wanted to play flute or clarinet and all of the boys wanted to play trumpet and trombone.  Mom and Dad were happy because they didn’t need to rent an instrument – the smelly one in the basement was just fine to start.  I can almost hear them – “let’s see how this goes before we invest in something”.

Little did Mom and Dad (or that elementary band director) know that I had caught the horn bug.  It turns out that with some practice, I could really play and play well.  Along with the guidance of a few really good teachers, I went to college with majors in music (my passion major) and math (my practical “make money after graduation” major).

Throughout the years, that old smelly instrument in the basement (that my parents still have by the way) was replaced with better and better equipment.  And that same little 5th grade girl is still enthralled by the curvy metal and the Mozart Horn Concertos.

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Why I Play…Kelly Carter

On Thursday, November 12, the Bloomington Symphony will participate in Give to the Max Day. Please visit this site to learn more about how your support helps the BSO and schedule your donation today!

Why I Play: Kelly Carter

Why I Play: Kelly Carter

#GTMD15 #WhyIPlay #BSOMN

 

 

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Audition Information Updated

BSO musicians chat during a rehearsal break

BSO musicians chat during a rehearsal break

Are you a musician who is looking for a fantastic ensemble to play with in the Twin Cities metro area? Perhaps you are a recent college graduate looking for a place to keep up your chops, or a parent who has recently launched their child into the world. Maybe you have taken a year or two off from playing in an ensemble or you miss the experience of making great music under a fabulous conductor every week.

If this (or something else!) describes you, please take a look at the Bloomington Symphony’s newly updated Auditions page. There, you will find information on our new two-part audition process with a first-round video and a second-round live performance. You can also fill out a form to let us know about you and check out the Audition Materials page where you can find the excerpts.

If you have any questions about auditioning for the Bloomington Symphony or want to know more about what joining the BSO means, please contact our General Manager, Sara Kleinsasser Tan at info@bloomingtonsymphony.org.

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Auditions for Violin – Saturday, February 1

The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra is announcing auditions for the following positions: Principal Second Violin, Assistant Principal (first) Violin (4th chair) and Section Violin. We invite any interested violinists to audition on Saturday, February 1, 2014, beginning at 2 p.m.

The audition packet is available here and candidates are invited to send an e-mail to info@bloomingtonsymphony.org to reserve an audition time or ask further questions. Times will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

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In memoriam: David Jones, former BSO violinist

The BSO sends its condolences to the family and friends of David “Davie” Jones, who passed away in a car accident on Thanksgiving Day. Dave was a member of the BSO for 27 years, and he “retired” following the 2006-07 season, when the orchestra performed at Orchestra Hall. His stand partner of 24 years, Lori Sweazy said, “He wanted to go out on a high note…” and indeed he did. We are grateful for Dave’s many years of service to the BSO. You can read the full notice for Dave Jones here.

If you have any memories of Dave, please share them in the comments.

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BSO Names New Artistic Director and Conductor

The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra board is thrilled to announce the appointment of Manny Laureano as the BSO’s next Conductor and Artistic Director. Laureano has worked with a variety of ensembles, ranging from the Calhoun-Isles Community Band in Minneapolis and Music Director of the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, to several appearances in Young People’s Concerts with the Minnesota Orchestra. He has been in demand as a clinician for youth orchestras and bands throughout the state of Minnesota.

Manny Laureano

(Photo credit: Dawn Anderson)

In 2002, Manny and his wife Claudette were invited to guest-conduct the National Suzuki Youth Orchestra Festival Orchestra and were invited to serve again in 2004. Manny has served as Co-Artistic Director of the Minnesota Youth Symphonies (MYS) since 1988. He is the conductor of the MYS Symphony Orchestra, and is the brass and woodwind coach for the MYS Repertory Orchestra, conducted by Co-Artistic Director Claudette Laureano. Laureano served as Assistant Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra during the 2005-06 season and served as conductor of the 2008-2009 Minnesota All-State orchestra. In recent years he has appeared regularly as guest conductor at Indiana University, as well as the Eastern Music Festival, St. Olaf College, and Bethel University. He is also in demand as a guest conductor of community orchestras all over the Twin Cities Metropolitan area.

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