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

Capriccio Italien, Op. 45 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Tchaikovsky

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

In today’s world one can be stimulated to travel by a number of sources whether it be television, cinema, radio, or the internet. In 1880 all one had available were books and firsthand accounts of those you knew that had traveled. Perhaps some books had drawings or colorful pictures or even the relatively new phenomenon of something called a photograph. Great composers such as Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) did what other composers had done and added to the musical portrayals like his Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture to the mix. Certainly, describing settings was almost as old as music itself, but providing a listener with a flavor of sights and sounds was another challenge.

As a result of a trip to Rome with his brother in 1880, Tchaikovsky found himself fairly intoxicated by all which he encountered there and hastily wrote notes of the rhythms and harmonies that struck him as they would serve as future fodder for musical expression. From the day-marking bugle calls emanating from the military barracks next door to Hotel Costanzi where they stayed, to the never-ending stream of music that faded from one to the other at the carnivals he enjoyed, to somber and warm melodies and a saltarello of his own invention, Tchaikovsky shows that he did more than just visit Italy: he lived it!

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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“Play Me a Story” Concert Preview No. 2

Before each concert, we share “Manny’s Musings,” thoughts from our Music Director and Conductor, Manny Laureano. This is the final “Musings”  that will be posted in advance of the BSO’s Play Me a Story concert on February 21.

Aaron Copland, Composer

Aaron Copland, Composer

America’s composer, Aaron Copland (1900-1990), when asked to compose a piece of music that would celebrate the spirit of America after its entry into World War Two, was given a variety of choices of luminaries both living and dead. Copland chose Abraham Lincoln not only because he was such an important figure in our history but because his actions and words were so well-suited to that current critical time. In particular, the words spoken at Gettysburg bore a strong tone of admonition to the Americans of 1942 when the work was conceived, written, and performed by the Cincinnati Symphony. Lincoln’s words were part of a drive that came from many corners to remind Americans of their greatness and place on the world stage. The words seem to directly confront the losses suffered at Pearl Harbor and also to say that despite our imperfections, America had a responsibility to overcome the evil brought about by those that would seek to enslave others by tyranny. Thus was born Lincoln Portrait.

Benjamin Britten, composer

Benjamin Britten, composer

If Sergei Prokofiev sought to cultivate the love of music in Russian children and make them aware of the instruments of the orchestra, then Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) took it a step further. Borrowing a tune written by fellow Englishman Henry Purcell, he uses that tune to introduce and dissect the sound of an orchestra, section by section, instrument by instrument. Interestingly, of the three works you will hear, The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra is the only one that was conceived as subject and accompaniment to a film about the symphony orchestra, called The Instruments of the Orchestra, which was to be shown in 1946. While Disney did also indeed make a film about Peter and the Wolf, it was an afterthought to Prokofiev’s original project. Speaking of films, if Purcell’s theme sounds familiar to you, it may be that you recognize it from the soundtrack of the most recent version of Pride and Prejudice from 2005.

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “Play Me a Story” featuring narrators Yuri Ivan, Obiele Harper, and Quinton Wormald. The concert takes place on Sunday, February 21 at 3 p.m. at the St. Michael’x 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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“In the Spanish Style” Concert Preview No. 3

Before each concert, we share “Manny’s Musings,” thoughts from our Music Director and Conductor, Manny Laureano. This is the final “Musings” that will be posted in advance of the BSO’s In the Spanish Style concert on October 11.

chabrierAlexis-Emanuel Chabrier was born in January of 1841 and died relatively young at age 53. He was, as we have seen now many times, one of those composers who went for a practical field of study only to turn toward art as his greatest form of expression. It’s not surprising to note that he was, at first, a law student whose musical training was largely self-taught (ironically, the title of one of his operas was A Deficient Education). He was also a devotee of the then-new style of Impressionism in painting even though his music didn’t particularly reflect that trend in composition. In fact, the opus we’re playing at this concert was referred to by him as “a piece in F and nothing more.”

As with many composers, it was a trip abroad that awakened his interest in the sounds, rhythms, and character of Spanish music. In 1882, he toured almost every region of Spain and the writings he left behind were an indication that he found the various musical styles irresistible. Conductor Charles Lamoureux was a champion of sorts of his music and was eager to embrace and perform Chabrier’s recently orchestrated work, España. Although the work was conceived originally as a piano duet named Jota, it was well-received at its premiere owing to its rich orchestration and infectious melodic and rhythmic content.

portrait by Valentin Serov (1898)

portrait by Valentin Serov (1898)

Finally, tonight’s concert will end with a Russian work that has become synonymous with Spanish musical styles. The Capriccio Espagnol of Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov has been thrilling audiences since its premiere in 1887 in St. Petersburg.

Though he showed aptitude for math and science as a lad he fell prey to the muses and succumbed to a lifetime in art. So much so, in fact, that after meeting other Russian composers of the day and excelling in his piano studies, he became a member of what became known as “The Five.” The Five were Russian composers who made it their business to establish a clear identity for Russian music. Thus it was somewhat ironic that Rimsky-Korsakov would become so well known for his Spanish Caprice. Yet, perhaps not so much when we remember that he was the man who wrote a book on orchestration that would become a required text for study for many composers that followed after him.

The Capriccio was first thought of as a solo work for violin and orchestra but he thought better of it and spread the wealth of his composition among the various instruments in the orchestra. It is, for all intents and purposes, a five-movement concerto for orchestra!

It begins with a lively Alborada that celebrates our daily sunrise with full percussion complement and competitive solos by the clarinet and solo violin. The lovely Variazioni that follow are a smooth showcase for the horns and voluptuous strings, ending with a wandering flute that leads us to another Alborada but a half step higher and the sound of what is mostly a wind band. The penultimate movement, Scena e canto Gitano is a suite of opportunities for soloists and complete orchestra sections to, well, show off a bit at their own pace before we end with the Fandango Asturiano and its blindingly energetic whirling dance music. The pace is dizzying and intoxicating but this is Spain… eso es asi!

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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“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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“In the Spanish Style” 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 of three “Musings” that will be posted in advance of the BSO’s concert on October 11.

In the Spanish Style

OutsideLeftManny2015When I set about the task of creating a program to begin the BSO 2015-16 season, I thought it necessary to define in musical terms what characterizes Spanish music of the 19th and 20th centuries. This is important because this concert is not only about Spanish music, but about composers who tried their hand at writing in that style. Several things surprised me. One was that the only piece we’re playing that was written by a Spanish composer, was written after three of the non-Spanish composers’ works. The other thing which was most interesting was that three of the works on this program were written four years apart from each other with two of them being published in the same year, 1887! Clearly, this style of music was compelling enough to draw the attention of both Russian and French composers.

The music of Spain is complex because there were so many regions that had their own forms of musical expression. The music of Andalusia is essentially that which we have come to know as Flamenco, characterized by its sharp rhythms and use of castanets. Aragon is where the jota (hoh-tah) likely developed with its addition of guitars and tambourines to the castanets. Add to this the regions of Asturias, Galicia, the Basque Country, and Seville and you can understand that such richness would appeal to composers with keen ears. But what is most important to recognize is that virtually all of these types of Spanish music lent themselves to or were born in the spirit of the dance.

What this concert will explore is not only the music of Spain but also Cuba via France and Minnesota! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though. Let’s start with Spanish music of the 20th century and Manuel de Falla…

The next Manny’s Musings will be posted on Monday, October 5. 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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BSO 2015-16 Print Materials

If you haven’t seen a hard copy of the BSO’s 2015-16 Print Materials, please download them from this page! It contains all of the information you need to know about this year’s concerts and how to purchase tickets! (Click on the images to enlarge!)

BSO 2015-16 Mailer Front

BSO 2015-16 Mailer Back

 

BSO Fall 2015 Postcard Back

BSO Fall 2015 Postcard Front

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BSO Announces 2015-16 Concert Season

02bwThe Bloomington Symphony is thrilled to announce its 2015-16 concert season. Music Director Manny Laureano has put together a season of programs that will delight listeners young and old alike. Listeners will travel to many places through music – Spain and Italy, a trumpet player’s journey from beginner to the world of jazz clubs, the land of Lincoln and through the orchestra itself.

Featured soloists are BSO Concertmaster Michael Sutton, the Charles Lazarus Quintet, Narrators James Lileks, Yuri Ivan, Obiele Harper, Quinton Wormald, Organist Jane Horn and the winner of the Mary West Solo competition, to be announced in December. We are especially excited to play our first full orchestra concert at the Schneider Theater at the Bloomington Center for the Arts. Tickets for that concert are reserved, so please book early for the best seats.

For more information, please visit the page for each concert.

October 11, 2015 :: In the Spanish Style

November 22, 2015 :: Journeys

February 21, 2016 :: Play Me a Story

April 17, 2016 :: Music in 3D: Part Three

Tickets are available in advance through the Bloomington Box Office:

Tickets are also available at the door – Cash or check only

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