Now posted! Manny’s Musings for “Pavanne” and “Adagio for Strings”

We are pleased to post Manny’s Musings, a preview of the program notes for our upcoming concert. Enjoy these notes, and buy your tickets for the concert to hear these pieces played in person. 

Pavanne from American Symphonette No. 2

Morton Gould

A black and white photo of an older gentleman who is wearing a suite and tie, and looking directly at the camera
Morton Gould, composer

There are those of us in the audience and the orchestra that will show our vintage by being familiar with terminology that time has kicked to the wayside. One of those terms is “semi-classical.” It was music that was written with many of the rhythms, harmonies, and melodic characteristics one would hear in popular music of the day but without accompanying lyrics. It could be argued that Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue belonged to that genre, but he would have disdained any such classification of his orchestral works.

Morton Gould (1913-1996) makes a similar case for his Pavanne which comes from a larger work of three movements called the American Symphonette. Upon hearing the entire three movement work, Gould seems intent on unabashedly saying that American music was multi-faceted and that the popular style had its place in the concert hall rather than being relegated to the dance hall. After all, is not jazz the pride of America? It is literally our music, and its influence has been felt all over the world.

The second movement of this Symphonette as he calls it, is in a word, charming. It swings lightly and is exploitative of the music of the day which was 1938. That is, ironically, the same year as the year the Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber was premiered in New York by Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra. Two pieces, two completely different moods. Such was the time.

Adagio for Strings

Samuel Barber

The muses that affect a composer to write are as interesting as the notions that compel conductors to program a given piece of music or an entire program, for that matter. That which moved Samuel Barber (1910-1981) to arrange his slow movement from the Quartet in B Minor for string quartet may remain a mystery if we are seeking his personal meaning to the music which has become a cathartic aria for an entire nation. Many of us will have to begrudgingly admit that we are far less familiar with the entire aforementioned quartet than the movement he isolated for a premiere in 1938, called simply Adagio for Strings. It was to be led by no less a luminary than Arturo Toscanini on a program that also included his First Essay at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

A black and white photo of a middle-aged white man wearing a dark suit and tie, sitting on a chair with a patterned background, looks away from the camera.
Samuel Barber, Composer

Barber was quite a young man when he met Maestro Toscanini in Rome. The earnest quality of his compositional style appealed to Toscanini, but there was more. By 1938, we were a world on the brink. Between the fascists in Italy and the Nazis in Germany, Toscanini welcomed the opportunity to herald a young American composer who was coming into his own. It seemed Toscanini was already fighting his own personal war against the likes of Mussolini who, for a time, marred and sullied his native Italy. Music, he decided, was one way to do it, and Barber joined the ranks of several other American composers Toscanini programmed in order to reinforce that the culture on our shores was worth preserving.

Since its premiere, it has become a part of the American soul. It was first used as a work for mourning after the death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt much as Gustav Mahler’s Adagietto from his Symphony No. 5 in the same way. Its quietly still opening gives way to wavering notes that move in the same way waves of sadness can wash over us during times of grief. The music seems to resist wailing until it doesn’t. The epic climax of the work is satisfying and leads us to end as we began, with stillness, but now with resolution.


Favorites: Yours, Mine, and Ours will be presented at the Schneider Theater at the Bloomington Center for the Arts on Sunday, November 19 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $14-$25 for adults and seniors, and free for students with ID and can be purchased online or by visiting the Bloomington Box Office in person Wednesday – Friday: 12:30 – 4:30 p.m., or by emailing boxoffice@bloomingtonmn.gov or  calling 952-563-8545

A group of male violinists wearing tuxedos and female violinists wearing black outfits, play together with singers in the background.
BSO Violins at Orchestra Hall in April 2023 Photo credit: Leslie Plesser
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VIP tickets for sale

In honor of the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra’s 60th Anniversary, we are offering limited VIP ticket packages for our concerts in 2023. Each package comes with two best-of-house seats, a BSO gift, and recognition from the stage. Packages need to be ordered in advance through the links below.

From the New World on February 26 Gift is a BSO-branded foldable picnic blanket, perfect for summer concerts!

Music in 3D #9: Beethoven’s 9th on April 16 Gift is two 15 oz. stemless wine glasses with BSO logo

Pictures coming soon!

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Sponsor the BSO @ Orchestra Hall

On Sunday, April 16, 2023, the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra will join forces with four vocalists and singers from three Bloomington-area choirs, for a performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor, “Choral,” Op. 125.

We invite you to attend this concert by purchasing tickets through the Orchestra Hall Box Office.

We need your support to put on this major work. Please consider sponsoring this concert with an additional contribution. Benefits include program advertisements, acknowledgement from stage, social media posts, and best of house concert tickets.

Diamond Level – Inside cover ad has been claimed. We can offer the inside back cover ad for the next Diamond sponsor.

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Tickets are on sale!

Tickets for the October, November, and February concerts are now on sale.

We we will announce a special 60th Anniversary VIP ticket package for the February and April 2023 concerts. These ticket packages will be limited.

Click each picture to learn more about the concert and purchase tickets now.

October 9, 2022 :: Great Music!
November 20, 2022 :: Soul and Irony
February 26, 2023 :: From the New World
April 16, 2023 :: Music in 3D #9: Beethoven’s 9th
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Music in 3D: #8 :: 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 entry of the “Musings” for the “Music in 3D: #8” concert that will be performed on Sunday, May 1, 2022.

Paul-Abraham Dukas (1865-1935) was one of France’s pre-eminent Jewish composers but his music did not really reflect the folk aspects of that culture, unlike Gustav Mahler, who was alive at the same time. His music was, instead, exemplary of the new traditions that the impending Impressionist would bring. In fact, he would eventually attend the Conservatoire in Paris and find himself studying and honing his skills alongside a young Claude Debussy and the two were friends until Debussy passed into musical immortality in 1918.

In addition to becoming a composer and orchestrator he became a respected music critic (one does have to make money, after all). His musical output was not as massive as so many other composers of note but he did manage to make the most of what he wrote. There are few music-lovers who could not sing the famous bassoon melody from his best-known work, L’Aprenti Sorcier, with a few bup-de-buppity-bups. 

The Fanfare to La Peri is a bit of an afterthought that comes from suggestions that the abrupt, original opening to his short ballet needed something to prepare the palate. So, after preparing the main course, this chef pairs it with a short but brilliant work for an orchestral brass section. In three parts, he accomplishes what he sets out to do with bursts of chords, triple-tonguing, and a shimmering nod to the Impressionist period of 1912. It gives way to a cloudy texture of close harmony that does exactly what Impressionism in France was famous for. That is, suggestion rather than outright clarity. Not to worry, as the opening statement is reprised with an anthem-like ferocity leaving the listener to want to stand and, with a wave of your chapeau, yell “Vive le France!”

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “Music in 3D: #8” featuring soloists Clare Longendyke, piano, and Yu Chia Hsu, violin. The concert takes place on Sunday, May 1, 2022 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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New Works and Old Friends :: Concert Preview No. 4

Before each concert, we share “Manny’s Musings,” thoughts from our Music Director and Conductor, Manny Laureano. This is the final entry of the “Musings” for the “New Works and Old Friends” concert that will be performed on Sunday, October 6, 2019.

It’s hard to say exactly what it is about Sibelius’ music that has made it such a favorite of Minnesotans. Learning that Sibelius will be played somewhere is cause for bundling up the family and driving a reasonable number of miles of frigid winter darkness to hear it, whether by a local professional ensemble or a community group like your BSO. It may be that we identify with the kind of weather Sibelius knew or the heartiness required to live through a harsh winter. Finns and Minnesotans seem to relish the suffering, whether from sowing the seeds of freedom for a nation or living through just one more season of Vikings Football. In either case, hope springs eternal.

By the time Sibelius set about writing his wonderful Second Symphony, to be premiered just a month away from the promise of spring, he had attained a form of heroic status among musicians and the Finnish public. He also found a place for himself as a conductor of his own music, leading no less than the Helsinki Philharmonic for that premiere. The boy who would be a great violinist found himself in the position of being a voice for his people instead. It seemed the Finns were not in as much need for a star violinist as they were a voice the world would be able to recognize for his superb craft in melody, harmony, and construction.

Black and white photo of a stern looking middle aged man
Jean Sibelius, composer

The dedication to Baron Axel Carpelan, a noted hypochondriac who was unlucky at love and once smashed his own violin in a fit of frustration seems unlikely, but Carpelan had the gift to be a source of inspiration for Sibelius. In fact, he was the fellow who egged on Sibelius to write a the celebrated Finlandia. He continued to badger Sibelius to travel and take in the world so that he could continue to feed his talent. Carpelan was proved right as Sibelius did absorb the ideas that come through exposure to new situations. It was not easy since the recent death of daughter Kirsti Sibelius left an indelible mark on her grieving father. Music was what saw Jean through, nevertheless.

This symphony offers itself as an interesting contrast from the gloomy First Symphony in E minor. This D Major jaunt is sunny from the outset. You can literally feel the sun on your face from the opening bars. That’s not to say that the symphony doesn’t offer moments of introspection and self doubt. It is a deep symphony that speaks poetically. The “walking bass line” of the second movement is just one of the moments of what seems to be a look into the soul of someone whose brain is so busy as to be housing multiple personalities. Sibelius continues his habit of ending movements of his symphonies almost abruptly, without the usual grand ritardando and long held note. He seems to be eager to get on with it.

So he does with his third movement scherzo which is constructed almost exactly like a Beethoven scherzo. Its busyness pauses momentarily for what can only be described as a song for various woodwind soloists with a pastoral quality that makes the interrupting brass that return us back to the scherzo seem like a practical joke, again, much like Beethoven would have done.

The seamless transition to the finale… well, after so many suppositions as to what Sibelius “meant” by this heroic, bold music with its undeniable fervor, it must be left up to the listener to decide whether this is a bit of nationalist pride or an unabashed celebration of D Major merely for its own sake. He negotiates the waters of modulation from major to minor and back again in as expert a manner as one could imagine like characters in an opera. Sibelius pulls out all the stops and, as he does so beautifully in his earlier Finlandia, he makes you wish you were a Finn by the time the last chords ring like a peal of bells.

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “New Works and Old Friends” featuring Eastman School of Music Viola Professor George Taylor as soloist. The concert takes place on Sunday, October 6, 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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New Works and Old Friends :: 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 entry of the “Musings” for the “New Works and Old Friends” concert that will be performed on Sunday, October 6, 2019.

When you think of composers who had a large output of music of all types, one has to go to the usual suspects like Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach. If one was to further assume that it was one of those aforementioned gentlemen who held some sort of record for the most music written, you would be close but this is serious musicological business, not horse shoes. Nay, that record has to go to Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767) with about 900 pieces of music to his credit! This is not bad, considering that the young Georg was almost prevented from fulfilling his desire to be a great musician by his mother who believed that no good could come of this music obsession he had. My favorite quote about that was the admonition from some of the congregants from the Lutheran church he attended that he would turn out “a clown, a tightrope walker or a marmot trainer.” Never have seen a trained marmot, I don’t know that I would have minded that he learn the craft. At any rate, rodents were not in Telemann’s future and he set about studying a wide variety if musical instruments on his own in secret. He wrote and wrote as he matured and traveled to work in many important musical capacities for the great and near great. This came with a cost, however of a couple of marriages that didn’t end well. He did live a long life, dying at the age of 88.

A black and white etching of composer Georg Philipp Telemann wearing a white powdered wig and robes over his writing outfit
Georg Philipp Telemann

Telemann left us with a cornerstone of the viola repertoire, his Concerto for Viola in G Major which was written over a five year period between 1716 and 1721. I’m not sure what the hold up was, but it was the first concerto ever written for the instrument and I suppose he wanted to make sure he got it right. Apparently he did, since the four-movement, slow-fast-slow-fast structure was very appealing. The concerto exploits the wonderful alto voice of the instrument under a variety of articulations and sentiments. If you listen carefully, it will seem that the viola has a uniquely human character and it is perhaps that quality that makes it such a compelling voice to hear in the relationship between instrument and chamber orchestra.

African American violist George Taylor, wearing a robin's egg blue button down shirt, navy suit coat and holding his viola, stands against a colorful wallpapered wall.
George Taylor, viola soloist for the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra concert “New Works and Old Friends” on Sunday, October 6.

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “New Works and Old Friends” featuring Eastman School of Music Viola Professor George Taylor as soloist. The concert takes place on Sunday, October 6, 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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New Works and Old Friends :: 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 entry of the “Musings” for the “New Works and Old Friends” concert that will be performed on Sunday, October 6, 2019.

It is always an interesting debate to discuss what makes composers free in terms of how they express themselves. Are they free when they latch on to a current convention, perhaps writing in a style that is challenging for challenge’s sake? Are they freest when they write for themselves or the listener? This is the debate you may have when you listen to the music of Adolphus Hailstork (born 1941 in Rochester, NY). Hailstork is a true eclectic, as he doesn’t seem to feel the need to wed himself to any one musical language. He is at home in any structure he chooses to write.

African American composer Adolphus Hailstork, wearing a black tuxedo, against an ivory colored background
Adolphus Hailstork, composer

His works cover the gamut of styles and types of ensembles available for musical expression. He has written for band, orchestra, chorus, vocal soloists, and an array of chamber ensembles. This is reasonable, given his equally diverse mentors with whom he studied beginning in the early 1960’s including luminaries such as Nadia Boulanger, who was a prime influence for Igor Stravinsky and Aaron Copland, for example. He also worked with American composers David Diamond and Vittorio Giannini. What you think Hailstork “sounds like” really depends on which of his works you happen to be listening to.

Today, you will listen to his foray into the tonal qualities of the viola with chamber orchestra in Two Romances for Viola and Chamber Ensemble. His conversational and flowing style is a bit like the musical version of a color wheel which holds a melody that wafts from one instrument or sections of the orchestra to the solo viola. The BSO is proud to join the ranks of the Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Baltimore Symphony, and Detroit Symphonies, to name a few, in this celebration of the music of one of our own American composers.

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “New Works and Old Friends” featuring Eastman School of Music Viola Professor George Taylor as soloist. The concert takes place on Sunday, October 6, 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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New Works and Old Friends :: 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 edition of the “Musings” for the “New Works and Old Friends” concert that will be performed on Sunday, October 6, 2019.

At first blush, there doesn’t seem to be anything remarkable about the development of Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) from a budding violinist to Denmark’s best-known composer. In fact, critic Michael Steinberg’s description of the three year-old boy’s fascination with the different pitches coming from striking fire logs is downright cute. It sounds like something that could happen at anyone’s home today. His interest in the violin and the impressive qualities of the piano gave him an outlet for his expression that gave way to composition after the hearing the great masterworks during his teen years. He developed his ear and his talent at the Copenhagen Conservatory, earning money playing at Tivoli Gardens and even learning to conduct well enough to achieve respect among his peer musicians. His output was generous and undeniable in invention and in quality with six symphonies, several diverse concerti, chamber music works, and operas that put him at the top of the Danish musical food chain.

A black and white photograph of Danish composer Carl Nielsen from 1931
Carl Nielsen, composer

In his three-act comic opera, Maskarade, Nielsen seems to have taken his cue form the light wit of Johann Strauss Jr.’s operetta, Die Fledermaus, as a cue for some of his plot. It is essentially a farce revolving around, you guessed it, mistaken identities. The gist of the plot involves Leander and Leonora, who have met at a dance and become smitten with each other. Now this would be fine except that it was a masquerade ball and the infatuated pair wore masks. They had no way of knowing that they had already been promised one to the other by their fathers! Well no matter, as they have two more acts to get it all straight so that a happy ending can be declared with a final chorus of triumph and laughter. If only life were like that: confusion and bumbling that always ends up with song and a champagne toast in a scant three hours!

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “New Works and Old Friends” featuring Eastman School of Music Viola Professor George Taylor as soloist. The concert takes place on Sunday, October 6, 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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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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