“Capriccio espagnol” Musings Now Posted!

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. 

Capriccio espagnol

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Finally, this afternoon’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.

A painting of an older man with a long gray beard and glasses, who is sitting at a desk, looking at a large paper document
A portrait of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov by Valentin Serov (1898)

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!

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 photo featuring violin, viola, flute, clarinet, oboe, and bassoonists, a mix of men and women, wearing black outfits or tuxedos, taken from an overhead perspective

Now Posted! Manny’s Musings ~ Bach’s Violin Concerto

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. 

Violin Concerto in E Major, BWV 1042

Johann Sebastian Bach

Genius reveals itself in myriad ways, but what is key in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) is the unbelievable simplicity in the construction of his works. This certainly goes for the other great composers, as well. Beethoven was another with a talent for creating masterpieces out of simple arpeggios and rhythms that seem to have been born of a tantrum.

In Bach’s Concerto in E Major for Violin and Orchestra, he launches upward in typical optimistic fashion, taking the listener with him on the sonic roller coaster ride that is characteristic of so much of his music. In fact, it truly does seem to have the uplift that is found in the second of his Brandenburg concerti. Bach was reputed to have written quite a few concerti for violin, of which only three remain, one of them being a duo. What is not emphasized enough is the sheer virtuosity required to play these concerti. Familiarity may have us think that these are works that are merely “tossed off” by a soloist. Not so.

Johann Sebastian Bach (aged 61) in a portrait by Elias Gottlob Haussmann, copy or second version of his 1746 canvas. The original painting hangs in the upstairs gallery of the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) in Leipzig, Germany.

In the first movement Bach provides us with the opportunity to witness the cleverness that takes us from ascending melodies that seem to not want to come back down to earth, to minor passages that are almost stern in character. Bach sets up a cadenza that pauses before the soloist and orchestra settle into a firm ending.

The slow movement displays what Bach does so well. That is, an elegant melody that is sweet without ever becoming maudlin or self-indulgent. Although the Romantic era in music and its ancestral Baroque era have about 75 years (arguably) between them, Bach seems to provide one of those glimpses which speak of a different day to come. Mozart and Beethoven were partners in the same effort, whether accidental or intentional.

As the third movement begins, do not deny yourself the smile that is inevitable as the forces launch into a 6/8 time worthy of a dance! It is, typical to Bach, a briefer movement than the preceding two and is meant to provide the listener with the same taste in the mouth as would a tantalizing bonbon after a good meal. If you find yourself rocking to-and-fro in your seat as the music plays, not to worry, we understand.

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

Three violinists in a row, one man with glasses, and two women with curly hair, play
https://bloomingtonsymphony.orgBSO Concertmaster, Michael Sutton with violinists Jennifer Volby and Anna Andrews, play in concert Photo credit: Leslie Plesser

Read Manny’s Musings ~ Richard Wagner’s “Overture to Rienzi”

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. 

Overture to Rienzi
Richard Wagner

While it can be argued that the music of Richard Wagner should be “blamed” for the direction 19th century music took toward a lack of tonality, the truth of the matter is that Wagner started off in a rather traditional fashion. In fact, it’s interesting to note that, unlike many of his musical predecessors, his first love was writing the written word rather than music itself. He was so moved by the works of Shakespeare and Goethe, for example, that he was compelled to try his hand at writing at the age of fourteen. It was at that time that he went about the task of attempting to write music for his tragedy, Leubald. He spent the next many years perfecting his musical craft for the sake of accompanying the great stories that stirred his heart, at first, alone, and then with help from teachers such as Christian Weinlig, of the Thomaskirche in Leipzig.

A black and white photo of an older man wearing a white collard shirt, ascot, and suit jacket
Richard Wagner, composer

Rienzi was Wagner’s first successful opera. He already had a few junior works to his credit from piano sonatas to a symphony in C major. He had already written operas (Die Hochzeit and also Die Feen) but it was not until he completed Rienzi that he took his foothold into prominence during a time of nationalistic musical fervor in Germany. Wagner’s use of chromaticism continued a natural transition in music history that started with Hector Berlioz in Paris and continued with him. It was that use of chromaticism that opened the gates for new modalities in subsequent composers.

Normally, one would think of a trumpet calling soldiers to war to be involved in a complex set of flourishes. But in this immensely popular overture, Wagner decides that a single note, swelling and fading, should be the signal to battle for the Collonas, a family featured in the opera. But the call to action from the fifth act of the opera gives way to a solemn prayer rather than an act of militarism. This foray into grand opera in the French tradition of the time is wonderfully tuneful, yet it offers a glimpse into the ascending chromaticism that would mark the unique quality of Wagner’s subsequent work (if you think you hear a bit of The Flying Dutchman in various transitory and developmental passages it is for good reason, for it would be the opera that followed Rienzi by a year!). All the ingredients for a 19th century grand opera on Italian themes are present: corrupt government officials, forbidden love, dueling families, a burning city, and, of course, vendettas accompanied by mobs thirsting for blood. But none of this seems quite so horrific when people are singing at the top of their lungs!

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

BSO and chorus onstage with Manny Laureano at the podium, at Orchestra Hall. Photo by Leslie Plesser

Now Posted: Recollections from BSO Musical Leaders

We have collected memories from the BSO’s past Music Directors and Concertmasters on this page. Please click through to read their memories. You are welcome share your memories by emailing info@bloomingtonsymphony.org. We invite past BSO musicians, soloists, board members and audience members to share your favorite stories or well-wishes with us.

The BSO in 2011 // Photo by Leslie Plesser/Shuttersmack

2023-24 Concert Season Announcement

The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra is thrilled to announce its 61st concert season. Please check the individual pages to learn more about each concert.

Past, Present, and Future

Favorites: Yours, Mine, and Ours

Celebrating the Americas!

Out of this World!

Music Director Manny Laureano has put together a season featuring American composers on each program along with outstanding soloists, and audience and musician favorites. Purchase your tickets today to guarantee the best seats in the house, and share this news with your networks.

We look forward to sharing this season of music with you!


Order “Soul and Irony” concert tickets now!

Tickets for Soul and Irony are now available for online purchase. Order your reserved seating tickets today to avoid lines on the day of the concert. If you have any questions or would prefer to order your tickets on the phone, please message info@bloomingtonsymphony.org or leave a voicemail at 952-563-8573 and we will return your call within 1 business day.


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.


Tickets on Sale Now!

The BSO looks forward to performing with soloists Clare Longendyke and Yu Chia Hsu for our season-ending concert, Music in 3D: #8, on Sunday May 1. Tickets are on sale now – Order today to assure your chance to hear these outstanding soloists and the BSO’s highly anticipated performance of Brahms’ Symphony No. 4.

Clare Longendyke, Piano
A black and white photo of a young Asian man holding a violin
Yu Chia Hsu, violin

November Program Sneak Peek

We are happy to provide this preview of the Bloomington Symphony’s November 21 concert program. Please read, and then purchase your tickets here and plan to join us for the performance of these two pieces – one brand new to the orchestra and our audience, the other familiar and beloved. Don’t miss your chance to hear these great works performed live, by the 75 volunteer musicians of the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra led by Manny Laureano, Music Director and Conductor.


Tickets on sale for 2021 concerts

The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra performs at the Masonic Heritage Center, under the baton of Manny Laureano
The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra with Manny Laureano, Music Director onstage at the Minnesota Masonic Heritage Center (Photo by Leslie Plesser)

The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra is looking forward to returning to stage this fall.

The first concert, Celebrations! will be on Sunday, October 3. Featuring Rebecca Jyrkas, the BSO’s principal horn playing Richard Strauss’ Horn Concerto No. 1, and Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite (1919), along with violinist Vladimir Tsiper, the concert will be a triumphant and celebratory return to the concert stage.

The BSO will return to the Masonic Heritage Center stage on Sunday, November 21, for The Storyteller and the Poet. Opening with William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony, this gorgeously orchestrated piece was written by an African American composer who we are proud to introduce to our Bloomington audience in what we believe to be the Twin Cities premiere of this piece. The concert will conclude with BSO Concertmaster Michael Sutton performing the beloved Violin Concerto by Ludwig van Beethoven.

Tickets are on sale now.

October concert

November concert

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