Percussion Audition – February 2020

We are pleased to announce an audition for a section percussionist on Sunday, February 2020. Full information is available on our audition page. You may also reach out to for more information.


Benefit Recital on September 22

A graphic representation of a violin and a flower like design. Text says Benefit Recital, along with the BSO logo, date of September 22 and time of 3 p.m.

The BSO invites you to jumpstart our 2019-20 concert season by attending our Benefit Recital featuring Michael Sutton, Lara Bolton, and the Solerna Winds. Join us for an afternoon of conversation, refreshments, cash bar, and music, all in support of the BSO’s mission to enrich the lives of our audiences and musicians with outstanding performances of challenging, educational, and thoughtfully selected orchestral repertoire.


Season Announcement on July 15

Come to our website on Monday, July 15 to find out what Manny has selected for the BSO in 2019-20! You will be able to learn about each concert and order tickets on that day.

We will happily send a brochure to your home if requested. Please send requests before July 8 to assure delivery. You can request this by filling out the form below:

You may also join our email list using this form:


* indicates required
Email Format


Last call: Audition video due June 1

Auditions for cello viola violin on June 9
Videos for the June auditions are due on June 1.
Submit videos to

Music in 3D: #6 :: Concert Preview

Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104
Antonín Dvorák

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 “Music in 3D: #6” concert that will be performed on Sunday, May 5, 2019.

When, at first you don’t succeed, wait about thirty years and try it again. It’s always a bit stunning to see, when we study the lives of the great composers, how much time can lapse between a concept and an execution. From Brahms to Wagner, we see that the great composers were willing to wait until the roast was ready and rested before carving.

Antonín Dvorák was born in an area of the world that produced so much descriptive and beautiful music, Bohemia, in 1841 and he died in Prague, in 1904. In his later years he traveled to the New World and visited much of the United States, which gave him opportunity to experience music and musicians in a more personal and firsthand way. After hearing American composer and cellist Victor Herbert play his own Second Cello Concerto,
Dvorák was reminded that he had some unfinished work to do. In 1865, the young Antonín had written a Cello Concerto that he ultimately disliked and never took to the task of orchestrating to completion. Now the more mature and accomplished Dvorák realized he needed to both write a work for cello and orchestra that would satisfy him and be richly successful as a standard part of the solo repertoire.

Though Dvorák had selected friend and musical associate, Hanuš Wihan, to be his soloist for the premiere, it was not to be, due to a set of managerial mishaps—although Wihan did get the opportunity to play it publicly later. The premiere was rescheduled with a different soloist, Leo Stern, in London. Since Dvorák was of the group of composers who had conducting skills, he led the performance from the podium. His opportunity to conduct must have been very special indeed, but for a different reason than you might suspect. At one point in his life, Dvorák was quite smitten with one Josefina Cermáková but his ardor was not returned by Josefina. He did, however, marry Anna, the younger sister of Josefina. We can only surmise that there were always subdued feelings for his first love and when news of her reached him, he inserted a coda with references to a song of his, which he knew Josefina liked. One can only imagine that personal and reflective moment for him on the podium, as the music in his ears matched what he felt in his heart.

Nygel Witherspoon with his cello
Nygel Witherspoon, Cello

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “Music in 3D: #6” featuring award-winning cellist Nygel Witherspoon soloist for the Cello Concerto. The concert takes place on Sunday, May 5, 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.


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!


Musician’s Musing – February 2018

This month’s Musician’s Musings was written by BSO Principal Percussionist, Paul Madore.


From Jazz to Classical


As far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved music. So much so that my earliest childhood memories center on drums, phonograph records, or a combination of the two. I distinctly remember pounding away on a Quaker Oats oatmeal canister, trying to play along with the calypso rhythms I heard as “Belafonte Sings of the Caribbean” spun around on our RCA “suitable for mono” portable record player. (Yes, I realize I’m showing my age here.)

Before I was old enough to read, I could go through my parents’ LP collection and pick out whatever they requested, much to my mother’s delight and bewilderment.

From there, it was a short leap from just listening to music to wanting to learn how to actually play it, and I begged my parents to let me take drum lessons. My mother spoke with a local drum instructor who advised her to wait until I reached the ripe old age of seven before making that commitment.

When my seventh birthday finally arrived, my parents could no longer delay the inevitable and told me I could start my drum lessons. I was so excited! I still remember my first lesson with Mr. Riccardo. He had a music studio set up in the finished basement of his house. As I walked down the stairs, I peered up at the photos on the wall of his trio playing at the “Marco Polo”, a local Italian restaurant that featured live music.

At the foot of the stairs was the main area of the basement, and as I rounded the corner, an alcove transformed itself into a musical Valhalla, with a piano, a stereo, and most importantly, a real set of 4-piece Slingerlands in blue sparkle finish! I had never seen a real drum set before, and was surprised to find a foot pedal behind the bass drum. Having previously only seen pictures of a drum set photographed from the front, I had somehow imagined that the bass drum’s only purpose was to support the small tom-tom and ride cymbal. Clearly I had much to learn…

Fast-forward to 6th grade, and I by now I was playing in a real rock and roll band! The original band name was “Mantissa”, which is some mathematical term that I’m still unfamiliar with. We quickly opted for the easier-to-understand and more picturesque “Red Moon”. We were a power trio of sorts, and did covers of classics like “Honky Tonk Women” and “Smoke on the Water”, along with some half-baked instrumental originals with inscrutable titles like “Japan” and “Corn Kernels”.  I felt super-cool, because the other 2 guys were in high school, and here I was with them playing at high school dances that I would have been too young to attend, had I not been one of the performers on stage.

As I grew older, my musical tastes became more refined, and in addition to playing in the school concert band and jazz band, I enjoyed listening to jazz and funk, and tried to emulate the style of my favorite drummers. I was a big fan of that outdated musical hybrid term “Jazz/Rock”, and I immersed myself in the crisp drumming styles of Bobby Colomby (“Blood, Sweat and Tears”) and Danny Seraphine (“Chicago”).

When I was 15, I auditioned for and won a spot in the percussion section with “America’s Youth In Concert”, a nation-wide concert band and choral group that played such venues as Carnegie Hall in New York and the bicentennial in Philadelphia, before embarking on a month-long tour of Europe.

After graduating from high school, I attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, where I studied jazz theory and jazz drumming, played in various big band ensembles and received my Bachelor of Music degree in performance.

While living in Boston, I lived the aspiring “musician’s life” of working a day job to pay the bills, and playing various gigs at night to fulfill my musical passion. That template remained more or less intact, even after moving to Minnesota during the great Halloween storm of 1991.

Since moving to Minnesota, I became more involved in classical music, performing with the Dakota Valley Symphony, while continuing to play in various horn-driven funk/R & B bands, such as “Down Right Tight” and “Under Suspicion” and jazz bands such as “The Stan Bann Big Band” and “Beasley’s Big Band”.

My first experience performing with the BSO was back in 2003, when I was hired as an extra to play triangle and tam-tam in Mahler’s Second Symphony, “The Resurrection”. I was very impressed by the high level of musicianship of the players, and completely blown away by the magnitude of this magnificent work! Having at the time only a limited familiarity of Mahler’s music, I eagerly began exploring his other works and today consider Mahler one of my all-time favorite composers.

Around 2010 or so, I made the conscious decision to concentrate exclusively on performing orchestral music, primarily with the BSO, but also subbing with other orchestras, such as the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and Saint Paul Civic Symphony.

When approached about writing this edition of the Musician’s Musings, I was asked to write about my experiences moving from jazz to classical. I’ve always likened the idea of a musician playing different styles of music as akin to a skilled athlete playing different sports. Proficiency at one sport is no guarantee for success at another. And yet, there is a common ground that some people skilled in athletics share. The hand-eye coordination that is required in one game may present itself differently in another game’s execution, but that basic coordination will still be required in some shape or form.

It is the same in the world of music. Certainly there are common fundamental requirements in order to play the correct notes, sing the correct pitches, etc. Stylistically, though there can be many subtle and not-so-subtle differences. Each musical style presents its own inherent logic and set of rules with which a musician must be familiar, or risk sounding amateurish.

A good example of this is evident in Jazz music. When all the players are in sync rhythmically, the music is considered “swinging”. Jazz music is triplet-based, with a typical ride cymbal pattern driving the rhythm: quarter note, 1st & 3rd triplet, quarter note, 1st & 3rd triplet, etc. Though it’s played like triplets, this rhythm is often written as: quarter note, dotted 1/8th & 16th, quarter note, dotted 1/8th and 16th, etc.)

A common mistake for “legit” or classical musicians is to play this rhythm strictly as written, which sounds “square”, “unhip”, and definitely NOT swinging. In order to sound correctly, a certain creative license must be employed, which means the player must not play exactly what is written on the page.

On the flip side of the coin is the seasoned jazz musician, who may know all the standard tunes in the repertoire by heart, or by reading off a lead sheet (a sort of musical shorthand that shows just the melody line and the chord changes), but may not have the sight-reading skills necessary if called upon to sub for a symphony orchestra. And all those European musical terms might feel like a foreign language, because they actually are!

Of course, there are many versatile musicians these days who can bridge both jazz and classical styles. Perhaps the most famous is Wynton Marsalis, whose trumpet virtuosity has extended into highly acclaimed recordings and performances in both sound worlds.

Since orchestral music can have limited percussion parts (or no percussion at all, in some cases), I sometimes get asked if I get tired of waiting to play, or having to “count so many bars of rests” before making an entrance. On the contrary. One of the great things about performing as part of an orchestra is that you get to listen and bask in the collective sound of the group as a whole. This is true even when you’re not playing, sometimes even more so. While I love playing a busy, challenging part and the “go-for-broke” spirit that goes with it, it can be equally enjoyable to just sit back and listen. In fact, I’d rather listen to music that moves me even if there is no percussion, than to play something I don’t connect with emotionally just for the sake of playing. I’ve always believed that to be a good musician, you must first be a good listener. I can think of no greater thrill than being on stage with the BSO when we’re making music at our highest level.


Melodious Tchaikovsky on February 15

Arek Tesarczyk, 'cello

Arek Tesarczyk, ‘cello

Are you looking for a way to avoid crowded restaurants but still want to have a special Valentine’s Day weekend? Then join the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra for Melodious Tchaikovsky on Sunday, February 15 at 3 p.m. The concert will feature an all-Tchaikovsky program, including Variations on a Rococo Theme with Minnesota Orchestra cellist Arek Tesarczyk as soloist, Symphony No. 5 in E minor, and the ever-popular Romeo and Juliet Fantasy-Overture. Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors (62+), and students are free with ID. Tickets are available in advance at the Bloomington Box Office or by calling 952-563-8575.


Our next concert: Anybody Here Speak American?

Michael Sutton

Michael Sutton

Thank you to all who attended the first concert of the season, “Three Singing Masters,” on October 5. We had a wonderful time playing and hope to see you at our next concert, “Anybody Here Speak American?” on Sunday, November 16. Our new concertmaster, Michael Sutton, will perform Barber’s Violin Concerto, preceded by Aaron Copland’s Quiet City and followed by Charles Ives’ Symphony No. 1. Check back in the next few weeks for Manny’s Musings, a preview of the program, posted on this website.


Timpani audition to be held September 21

The Bloomington Symphony has an opening for a timpani chair. The successful candidate will begin playing as a member at the November 2014 concert. Rehearsals for that concert cycle begin on October 12.

The timpani audition will be held on Sunday, September 21 at 5 p.m. to learn more, please download the Timpani Audition Packet or send an e-mail to for more information.

Photo by Leslie Plesser

Photo by Leslie Plesser

Responsive Menu
Add more content here...