From Boisterous to Pastoral :: Concert Preview 2 of 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 “From Boisterous to Pastoral” concert that will be performed on Sunday, February 24, 2019.

Violin Concerto No. 3 in B Minor

Camille Saint-Saëns

Imagine how wonderful it would be to be a gifted composer! Melodies and harmonies would flow from you to your pen (perhaps a computer in today’s world) as you needed them. Now imagine the luxury of having at your disposal some of the world’s greatest soloists, eager to play the music you have written for them. This was the world Camille Saint-Saëns (1835 – 1921) lived in, as he was able to write this work for Pablo de Sarasate, a luminary of the violin world from Spain who was only a tender fifteen years of age!

What is remarkable about this concerto is revealed in the single movement you will hear at this BSO concert. It is common for composers of this time and before to write their finales in rondo form. That is to say, that one theme will have the opportunity to come back repeatedly, an economical way of writing and a good way to have your audience leave whistling the tune. Saint-Saëns eschews that form with a curt “Non, non!” and proceeds to use no fewer than five separate themes that tie together in the way that only a genius could dictate. Not since Mozart do we have a composer “throw away” themes in a playful manner and with such success. One theme in particular is so serene and pastoral as to put on display Saint-Saëns’ Catholic faith. Its tranquil beauty returns as a powerful hymn played by the brass section against the busy strings, each complementing each other.

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “From Boisterous to Pastoral” featuring Catherine Carson, winner of the Mary West Solo Competition as soloist for Camille Saint-Saëns’ Violin Concerto No. 3. The concert takes place on Sunday, February 24, 2019, at 3 p.m. at the Gideon S. Ives Auditorium at the Masonic Heritage Center (11411 Masonic Home Drive, Bloomington).

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From Boisterous to Pastoral :: Concert Preview 1 of 3


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 “From Boisterous to Pastoral” concert that will be performed on Sunday, February 24, 2019.

Roman Carnival Overture

by Hector Berlioz

For a man who complained as much as he did about Rome, French composer Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) kept that dislike a secret, if we are to judge by the quality of his output on Italian themes while he worked and finished his studies during the 1830s. In addition to his work for solo viola and orchestra, Harold in Italy, he completed a large, two-act opera called Benvenuto Cellini.

Photo of Hector Berlioz, composer
Hector Berlioz, Composer

One never knows exactly why audiences take to a work or greet it with raised eyebrows. In any case, the opera had only mild reaction but the overture was greeted with a bit more enthusiasm. Still, the entire work never really caught on during his lifetime. He did revisit it, though and even Franz Liszt took interest enough to revive it in Weimar. It was during that time that Berlioz thought it wise to draw a variety of themes from the opera and fashion an overture of a programmatic sort. That overture, Roman Carnival, is a robust medley of brash opening fireworks, a hopeful ballad from the English Horn that wafts infectiously from section to section, and a lively saltarello that builds, ebbs, and builds again into the boisterous finale this concert promises to deliver.

Buckle up.

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “From Boisterous to Pastoral” featuring Catherine Carson, winner of the Mary West Solo Competition as soloist for Camille Saint-Saëns’ Violin Concerto No. 3. The concert takes place on Sunday, February 24, 2019, 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 952-948-6506.

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Introducing Catherine Carson, Violin

Catherine Carson, Violin

Catherine Carson (Cate) is from Northfield, MN, and is a violin student of Sally O’Reilly. She is in 11th grade and is in the Pre-Conservatory program at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School. She has been playing the violin since she was four years old. Cate is a prize winner in many competitions, including the Thursday Musical Competition, the Schubert Club Competition, the YPSCA Competition, the Rochester Music Guild Competition, the Mary West Solo Competition, and the 2018 Senior Level MTNA Competition, West Center Division. 

Cate has performed in the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Brunswick, Maine, California Summer Music in Sonoma County, and the Bravo Festival in Minnesota. She has worked with Almita Vamos, John Gilbert, Robin Scott, Renée Jolles, and Susan Crawford, and has participated in masterclasses with Jennifer Koh, Gwen Thompson, and Nicola Benedetti. Her orchestral experiences include both the Minnesota Youth Symphonies and Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies, serving as concertmaster twice. Her favorite academic subjects are English and history, but when not practicing or studying, Cate enjoys spending time with her friends, family, and her cat.

Join Cate for her performance of the final movement of Camille Saint-Saëns’ Violin Concerto No. 3 with the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra on Sunday, February 24. The BSO is grateful to the Minnesota String and Orchestra Teachers Association and the coordinators of the Mary West Solo Competition in identifying this fine soloist!

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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. 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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“Music in 3D: Part Three” Concert Preview No. 3

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.

Symphony #3 in C minor, Op. 78 “The Organ” by Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)

“I have given everything to it I was able to give. What I have here accomplished, I will never achieve again.” – Camille Saint-Saëns

CSaint-SaensWhile those words are mildly prophetic, one has to smile when his concerti, opera, and various other works are considered. Nonetheless, the scope of this piece with its requisite organ soloist and four-handed piano duo in the second part are noted is all at once as delicate as a fleur de lis and as imposing as the Eiffel Tower. While the piece is not religious in intent, there is a self-conscious humility that pervades the opening and its subsequent offbeat staccatos that give way to a truly “French” second theme of joy.

The sincere beauty and simplicity of the slow section makes for a lovely duet between organ and orchestra. The Second part continues with a scherzo that is reminiscent of the Spanish Fandango challenging the woodwinds and strings to virtuosic exchanges as we settle into a fugato that previews thematic material from the Finale. This finale is blazing as it reintroduces the organ with all its majesty in conversation with the orchestra’s brass until the end. If the theme seems familiar to you, you may recall that this music from this Finale figured prominently in the 1995 film, Babe.

 

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “Music in 3D: Part Three” featuring violinist Louisa Woodfull-Harris and Jane Horn, Organ. 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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“In the Spanish Style” 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 of three “Musings” that will be posted in advance of the BSO’s concert on October 11.

Manuel de FallaManuel de Falla (y Matheu) was born in Cadiz in 1876. Like Richard Wagner, he had a great interest in literary works and felt a pull between music and writing. Music won out but not surprisingly, as he was exposed to a great many musical events in his younger life. However, it was his admiration for the work of the Norwegian Edvard Grieg that pushed him toward wanting to be a proponent of Spanish music and its national character. His tremendous work ethic and self-discipline paved the way for that to happen. Ironically, it was the work and recognition he received from fellow composers in Paris that helped him establish a foothold in musical circles as the 19th century turned into the 20th. He began to crank out success after success until he finally achieved immortality with his ballet/pantomime El Sombrero de Tres Picos or The Three-Cornered Hat.

The Second suite from The Three-Cornered Hat deals with the events in the latter half of the ballet. Essentially, the plot is farcical, dealing with stereotypical characters like the good miller and his wife, a lecherous and self-aggrandizing magistrate, and a bodyguard. Mistaken identities (the life-blood of theatrical works) and unrealistic situations that culminate in the powerful receiving their just desserts are the inspiration for Falla’s musical treat. Listen for the constantly shifting beat patterns that typify so much of the music from Spain. 6/8 time slyly becomes ¾ and vice versa. The sound of castanets tickle the ear as does the energetic restraint of Flamenco stylings.

Saint-SaensCamille Saint-Saens, born in Paris in 1835, was one of those Frenchmen for whom the captivating music of the Spanish tradition had great appeal. However, his contribution to this program comes through a different outlet. The source of the style comes from the island nation of Cuba, thus the title “Havanaise.” The Havanaise is typified by its rocking back and forth between a set of triplets and eight note duplets. The grouping is a gentle one-two-three, one… two, one-two-three, one… two. If it is reminiscent of the “Habanera” from the opera Carmen by Georges Bizet, then that is an astute observation on the part of you, the listener, as both rhythms come from the same source.

That Saint-Saens would be attracted to a musical form from outside the French tradition is not surprising considering that he also wrote music that gave a nod to the Russian style and he was also a fierce defender of the music of Wagner, a stance occasionally taken during a time when Wagner’s music was still considered somewhat revolutionary. Perhaps the young Saint-Saens’ efforts and dedication to art could be summed up best by countryman Hector Berlioz: “He knows everything but lacks inexperience.”

Since music is prone to being the stuff of legend, a popular notion is that the crackling of a fire in a pit at a hotel provided Saint-Saens with the crisp Havanaise rhythm that typifies the work. Of course, the violinist, Rafael Diaz, to whom the work was dedicated was, after all, a Cuban. Legend or not, Saint-Saens had a winner on his hands and the work was immediately popular.

The next Manny’s Musings with insights about Chabrier’s España and Capriccio Espagnol will be posted on Thursday, October 8. Check back for more about “In the Spanish Style!”

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “In the Spanish Style” featuring BSO Concertmaster Michael Sutton, as soloist. The concert takes place on Sunday, October 11 at 3 p.m. at 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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