“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.


“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.



“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.