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!

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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“Music in 3D: Part Three” 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 of three “Musings” for the “Music in 3D: Part Three” concert that will be performed on April 17, 2016.

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Minor Op. 47, by Jean Sibelius

Jean Sibelius, composer

Jean Sibelius, composer

My first encounter with this concerto of Sibelius (1865-1957) was as a student at the Juilliard School. It was completely unfamiliar to me yet it gripped me from the start. This piece, which took about three years (1902-1905) to write and revise, speaks poetically and passionately from beginning to end. From its indistinct and humble opening that speaks sensuously, scales and arpeggios and octaves that seem to mock hard-working students, and a brusque theme that is evocative of a masculine bar song sung by Nordic fishermen, Sibelius claims a rightful title as not only the greatest of all Finnish composers but as one of the most thoughtful composers in history.

Louisa Woodfull-Harris, Violin

Louisa Woodfull-Harris, Violin

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “Music in 3D: Part Three” featuring violinist Louisa Woodfull-Harris, winner of the Mary West Solo Competition sponsored by the Minnesota String and Orchestra Teachers Association. 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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Announcing Louisa Woodfull-Harris, Violin Soloist for April 17 concert

Louisa Woodfull-Harris, Violin

Louisa Woodfull-Harris, Violin

The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra is pleased to announce that Louisa Woodfull-Harris will perform with the orchestra on Sunday, April 17, 2016 at 3 p.m. Woodfull-Harris was the grand prize winner of the Minnesota String and Orchestra Teacher’s Association (MNSOTA) Mary West Solo Competition which was held in November 2015.

Woodfull-Harris will perform the first movement of the Violin Concerto by Jean Sibelius at the concert which will also feature Capriccio Italien by Piotr Tchaikovsky and Camille Saint-Saens’ Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, “Organ Symphony.”

To purchase tickets, visit the Bloomington Box Office. Tickets are also available at the door (cash or check only).

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“Music in 3D” Concert Preview No. 3

We are sharing the thoughts of Manny Laureano, the Bloomington Symphony’s Artistic Director and Conductor, with our audience, in advance of our concert “Music in 3D” on Sunday, April 13. We posted previous Manny’s Musings on Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. Check our website in the coming days for the final installment about Respighi’s Pines of Rome.

The Swan of Tuonela

Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)

Jean Sibelius, composer

Jean Sibelius, composer

The beauty of listening to The Swan of Tuonela by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius is in discovering not only what was written but what was left out. The Twin Cities public, of late, has been treated to much of the great symphonic writing by Sibelius as a result of the relationship between their own Minnesota Orchestra and its music director, Osmo Vänskä, also a Finn. As one becomes better acquainted with Sibelius, one becomes familiar with the triumphant sound of brass, the nattering of virtuosic woodwind passages, and sumptuous string writing. One also learns to appreciate the moody brooding of low strings and ever-present timpani rolls. Thus, the omission of trumpets, flutes, and clarinets gives us a color that Sibelius has withheld until this moment from our ears. This specific bit of orchestration allows us to focus on the ethereal nature of a mysterious black swan whose voice is heard in the sound of the English horn. The death of this swan at the hands of a man—for the sake of a woman—holds the key in this portion of a legend called Lemminkainen.

If this all sounds rather dramatic in an operatic sense, there is good reason. The Swan of Tuonela is what remains from the overture to an idea for an opera by Sibelius, The Building of the Boat. The opera did not survive despite various attempts by the relatively young Sibelius to improve it. He found that his greatest strength in musical storytelling was, ironically, with notes rather than words. In this he found much more in common with Franz Liszt rather than Richard Wagner, whose music he idolized. Sibelius’ use of rising strings and the darker-sounding instruments in the orchestra such as bass clarinet, horns, and trombones to support the solo english horn are accented by the quiet flourishes in the harp. All add up to a meditative setting that transcends the earthbound and is transporting.

Please join us for this concert, “Music in 3D,” on Sunday, April 13 at 3 p.m. at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington. To purchase tickets in advance, please visit our online box office here. Tickets are always available at the door.

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2013-14 Season Announced!

The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra’s newly appointed Artistic Director and Conductor Manny Laureano has put together his first season of programs for the BSO. The season promises to be a celebration of firsts, as the conductor and musicians begin a new era of making music together.

The BSO begins it’s 51st season on Sunday, October 6 with a concert called “Let Us Begin.” This concert will feature Shostakovich’s first opus, a Scherzo in f# minor, followed by Mendelssohn’s first piano concerto performed by Susan Billmeyer, the Minnesota Orchestra’s keyboard player. Brahms’ First Symphony completes this concert of “firsts.”

The BSO’s fourth annual concert at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Eden Prairie, this year on Sunday, November 24, is entitled “Sit Right Back and You’ll Hear the Tale.” This concert includes programmatic pieces including Borodin’s Overture to Prince Igor, as well as the Polovetsian Dances from the same opera. The concert will end with Rimsky-Korsakov’s musical tale of Scheherazade.

On Sunday, February 16, 2014, the BSO will celebrate “The Passion of Rachmaninoff,” with a concert program of Wagner’s Overture to Rienzi, Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major and concluding with Rachmaninoff’s passionate Symphony No. 2. The BSO’s concertmaster, Rebecca Corruccini will make her annual solo appearance at this concert.

The BSO will conclude its 2013-14 season with “Music in 3D,” a nod to the imagination that music inspires. “Music in 3D” includes Death and Transfiguration by Strauss, The Swan of Tuonela by Sibelius and Respighi’s well-known piece, The Pines of Rome. This concert will also feature a performance by the grand prize winner of MNSOTA’s Mary West Solo Competition.

Season and single concert tickets are now available online through the Bloomington Box Office or by calling 962-563-8575. Tickets are always available for purchase at the door. Single concert tickets are $14 for adults and $12 for seniors. Discounted season tickets are $48 for adults and $40 for seniors. Students with a valid ID are admitted free, thanks to our generous sponsors.

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