“Three Singing Masters” Concert Preview No. 2

We are thrilled to share the thoughts of Manny Laureano, the Bloomington Symphony’s Music Director and Conductor, with our audience, in advance of our concert “Three Singing Masters” on Sunday, October 5. The first Musing, on Wagner’s Overture to Die Meistersinger, is posted here. We will post future Musings in the days leading up to the concert. Please be sure to visit again soon and learn more about the program!

Four Last Songs
Richard Strauss (1864-1949)

Richard Strauss, composer

Richard Strauss, composer

Richard Georg Strauss occupies a rare place in musical history as a composer whose works spanned two centuries and enjoyed success in both. He wrote in virtually every genre of composition, some forms more successfully than others. From chamber music to lieder, symphonies, concerti, tone poems, and opera, Strauss proved able to manipulate his musical talents from mere forays to defining a genre. Not only was he a composer but he was a respected conductor of opera and symphonic works as well. During his lifetime he could have planned an entire concert around his music and included one of many overtures, an oboe or horn concerto, followed by an opera aria or two, and finished off with one of his symphonies or a 45-minute tone poem.

He had many influences as he grew, but an important one was the music of Richard Wagner. While he never met Wagner, he did find that Cosima Wagner favored his music enough to let the young composer/conductor interpret her late husband’s music. The richness of Wagner’s orchestrations was to forever influence Strauss as he mastered the ability of transparency despite a seemingly thick orchestration.

The Four Last Songs were written in 1948, a year before old age and failing health would take him. The songs speak with great sentiment yet never approach a saccharine quality. Perhaps the sweetness that characterizes this last, posthumously published work comes from a familial influence as his wife, Pauline, was a celebrated soprano and his father, Franz Joseph, an equally revered horn player. Both voice and lyrical horn melodies are a feature part of this collection.

For those that attended the BSO’s performance of Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration last season, there is a gentle melodic surprise in the last of these songs which ponders whether the settling dusk is actually the embrace of death. Try to hear the theme as it wafts by.


Strauss’ Four Last Songs will be performed by Minnesota native Sofia Ardalan. Please visit our Soloist page to learn more about Sofia.

Sofia Ardalan, soprano

Sofia Ardalan, soprano

Please join us for this concert, “Three Singing Masters,” on Sunday, October 5 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 (cash or check only).



2014-15 Concert Season Announced!

The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra

The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra

Bloomington Symphony Orchestra Music Director Manny Laureano has assembled four concerts with a variety of well-known classics and a few pieces that may be new to some in the audience. The 2014-15 concert season will feature a young soprano, a seasoned cellist and the BSO solo debut of our new concertmaster. Click on the link to learn more about each concert.

2014-15 Concerts

October 5, 2014 – Three Singing Masters: Wagner, Strauss & Mahler

November 16, 2014 – Anybody Here Speak American?: Copland, Barber & Ives

February 15, 2015 – Melodious Tchaikovsky: Three pieces by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

April 19, 2015 – Music in 3D: The Sequel: Franck, TBA & Mussorgsky/Ravel


Season tickets (one ticket for each concert) are available for purchase through the Bloomington Box Office (only). You can click here to order tickets online or you can call 952-563-8575 or stop by the Box Office in person  at 1800 West Old Shakopee Road in Bloomington.

Can’t make it to every concert? You can still get the discounted price by purchasing in advance, four or more tickets to any of the concerts. Season and four-ticket packages are $48 for adults and $40 for seniors.

Single tickets are available in advance or at the door for $14 for adults and $12 for seniors. Students are always free, thanks to our generous donors.

For more information about any of our concerts, please contact our General Manager, Sara Tan at info@bloomingtonsymphony.org


“Music in 3D” Concert Preview No. 1

Prior to each concert, we will post a preview of the concert program, by sharing notes written by our Artistic Director and Conductor, Manny Laureano. 

Death and Transfiguration, Op. 24

Richard Strauss (1864-1949)

Richard Strauss, composer

Richard Strauss, composer

Over the centuries concertgoers have been treated to a variety of music. From oratorios that celebrate a Biblical event or historical figure or to concertos featuring one or more instruments to fugues that challenge the ear to follow a progression of musically structured events, audiences have been given the opportunity to listen and make sense of collections of sounds. That opportunity was never greater than in the tone poems of Richard Strauss. To be sure, Strauss did not invent the idiom. Anyone who is familiar with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons or Heinrich Biber’s Battaglia or Wellington’s Victory of Beethoven understands that the idea of telling a story using musical lines, harmonies, and effects predates Strauss considerably. But a strong argument can be made in favor of his having set a new standard in how vivid a tone poem can be.

Strauss was already quite successful as a conductor of operas and symphonic works that were popular in the day. He was also ready to present his premiere of his first tone poem, Don Juan… when he had just finished his second, Tod und Verklarung or Death and Transfiguration. The speed at which he wrote is not surprising, however, when one considers that he had already written dozens of works by the time he got around to writing the kinds of music for which he would become best known. What is surprising is how well he found himself able to capture through melody and harmony a picture, a moment, a sentiment and have it become a boilerplate for so many that followed. It is even more surprising that he would do so well on the subject of the afterlife since he was not particularly religious himself. From its quietly painful opening to the transition into a C-major of childlike simplicity, Death and Transfiguration is cleansing to the listener after going though such palpable tumult with the subject of the story: The ailing elderly man who is, at first, so afraid of death but finds the peace he sought by finally embracing the path to which he is led.

Whether it is the seductive portrait of Don Juan the lover, Till Eulenspiegel’s infectious laugh, Don Quixote’s delusional nobility, the eerie stillness of a climber on a mountain before a storm in the Alps, or the clear passing of a human being from this world to the next, Richard Strauss stands alone in his ability to create the scene in your mind through well-chosen melodies, harmonies, and perfect orchestration.

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.


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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