Musician’s Musings – February 2016

This month’s musings features Brianna Wassink, violinist with the Bloomington Symphony. We are grateful to Brianna for being brave and sharing her story. We hope you enjoy this Musician’s Musings!

Brianna Wassink, age 6

Brianna Wassink, age 6

I’ve always been shy.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned ways to overcome my shyness, but it’s always there and definitely a part of my personality.  As much as I wish sometimes that I was more naturally outgoing, I have my shyness to thank for my career as a violinist and orchestra teacher.

I started taking violin lessons when I was in Kindergarten.  At the time, my school district (Wayzata Public Schools) had a K-12 strings program.  On the first day of school, they took all of us kindergarteners into the cafeteria and the orchestra teachers demonstrated the four string instruments for us.  I was immediately obsessed with the idea of playing the violin.  I came home that afternoon and very resolutely told my mom that I was going to play the violin.  She laughed, of course, at the curly-haired kindergartener standing in front of her making such a sweeping statement.  She probably figured I would forget about it in a day or two and go back to the previous week’s obsession of getting a pony for Christmas from Santa and taking riding lessons– typical 5 year-old stuff, right?  I didn’t forget, though.  I kept asking and asking, and finally she agreed… “Yes, Brianna, you can take violin lessons.”

That was 25 years ago.  Little did we know, my mom’s decision to allow me to start taking violin lessons would change the course of my life.  I played violin all through high school, then went to Luther College and earned a Bachelor’s degree in K-12 Instrumental Music Education.  I joined the BSO in 2007 when I moved back to the Twin Cities after college, and I’m happy to now be on the Board of Directors. Professionally, I’m teaching 4th, 5th, and 6th grade orchestra in the Roseville Public School district, teaching 550 students how to play the violin, viola, cello and bass. It’s a lot of work, but I love what I do and it’s very rewarding.

That last paragraph almost didn’t happen, though, thanks to my shyness.  Not long after starting those violin lessons, I came to the realization that playing a violin is actually pretty difficult.  You can’t just pick it up and all of a sudden play really well… It takes a lot of time, practice, and effort.  Funny how kindergarteners don’t think of things like that when they decide to start a new instrument, isn’t it?

Over the years, there were many times I wanted to quit.  It was too hard, it was too frustrating, I was never going to get it.  My mom, in all her wisdom, always responded the same way: “Fine, but you need to be the one to tell Mrs. Loing.”  Mrs. Loing was my violin teacher from kindergarten until 5th grade, and I adored her.  She was kind, patient, and understanding, but always had high expectations.  I’m still grateful to her for showing me how to teach that way, long before I had any idea that I would someday become an orchestra teacher myself.  I couldn’t fathom having to tell Mrs. Loing that I wanted to quit; she would be so disappointed in me.  So, thanks to that shyness that has plagued me my entire life, I never worked up the courage to tell Mrs. Loing I wanted to quit.  So, I just kept playing.

After a while, with practice and Mrs. Loing by my side, it eventually started to get better… I could hear myself improving, I played great music and made great friends playing in my school orchestras and local youth symphonies, and my cat wasn’t running to the other room every time my violin came out of the case anymore!

Before I knew it, I was a violinist.  A shy violinist, yes.  But a violinist nonetheless.  It’s my hobby, my career, and my passion all rolled into one amazing experience. I’m grateful to be a part of the BSO, and for the wonderful friendships I’ve developed over the years, and the beautiful music we’ve made together.

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“Music in 3D: The Sequel” Concert Preview No. 2

Before each concert, we share Manny’s Musings, thoughts from our Music Director and Conductor, Manny Laureano. Please enjoy this concert preview and check back on Friday for the final entry of “Manny’s Musings”!

Henryk Wieniawski, Composer

Henryk Wieniawski, Composer

Henryk Wieniawski and his Concerto No. 2 in D Minor for Violin and Orchestra occupy a stable place in the repertoire for talented violinists. Born in Lublin, Poland, he was exposed to music along with each of the sons produced by his parents, Regina and Tadeusz. He showed promise quickly and it came as no surprise that he would eventually be admitted to the Conservatoire de Paris at age ten with great enthusiasm by its director at the time, Daniel Auber.

As though being a dazzling young violinist weren’t enough, young Henryk or Henri, as he would become known in France, added to the concert repertoire he learned by composing his own music. Thus, the inevitable comparisons to composer/virtuoso performer Nicolo Paganini started to form when Henryk’s talent became undeniable as he approached his 20s. His output included pieces such as concert etudes, Three Romances, an air with variations, and a concerto for violin in D major, part of which has been lost with only a fragment surviving.
Wieniawski’s life as a musician proved rewarding and prolific as a composer as he continued to write and perform, receiving accolades from respected luminaries of the day such as Franz Liszt and Hector Berlioz who bemoaned Henryk’s leaving Paris to concertize in Russia. He was even lucky in matters of the heart when he was allowed to become engaged to the lovely Isabella Hampton of London, despite the raised eyebrows of her father who was not keen on the idea of his daughter marrying a musician. Love conquered in the end (along with a £200,000 life insurance policy) and they were married.

The Second Concerto had originally come to life in 1862 and dedicated to another fine virtuoso of the day, Pablo Sarasate. With the wisdom of the years come improvements and revisions to many composers and he published his final, improved version in 1870. It is, however, unfortunate to note that Wieniawski’s years were not as many as we would have liked. He developed a heart condition which came to a head while, ironically, performing the Concerto in D minor you will hear at this performance. He collapsed on stage yet marshalled the strength to finish his tour and improve slightly until he finally succumbed a few months later despite the loving care of Isabella.

Sara Melissa Aldana, Violin

Sara Melissa Aldana, Violin

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “Music in 3D: The Sequel” featuring Sara Melissa Aldana, winner of the CodaBow prize at the Mary West Solo Competition, as soloist. The concert takes place on Sunday, April 19 at 3 p.m. at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington. To learn more about the concert, click here, or to order tickets online through the Bloomington Box Office or by calling 952-563-8575.

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Auditions to be held July 14

The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra will hold auditions on Monday, July 14, 2014 from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. at the Bloomington Center for the Arts. Interested musicians are invited to visit the Audition page for more information. Musicians may also download the audition letter here.Bassoons

Open positions include: Principal Second Violin, Assistant Principal First Violin (two chairs), Associate Principal Viola, Associate Principal Cello, Principal Bass, section violin, viola and cello, Flute III & Piccolo II (must play both) and Oboe III with optional English horn. Other instruments are invited to audition for place on our substitute roster.

We asked a few of our current players why they play with the Bloomington Symphony. Here is what they said:

“The Bloomington Symphony provides the opportunity for its musicians and its audience to really meet classical music where it is meant to be encountered…at close quarters with your neighbors and friends.”

“Performing with the BSO is a joy for me! I began learning how to play violin at the age of 6 and played with various orchestras all the way up through my college years. After graduating from college, I wondered if I’d find an orchestra that would challenge me and keep me growing as a musician. The BSO has done just that!”

“I feel incredibly fortunate to be playing in my 25th season with the BSO. I continue to carve out time to play in this fantastic organization because of the enthusiastic reception from our audiences, wonderful friendships both old and new, and the experience of making music. Music enhances nearly everything I do, and the BSO is an integral part of my life.”

 

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“The Passion of Rachmaninoff” Concert Preview No. 2

This “Concert Preview” will provide background information on the pieces the BSO will perform next. Each Concert Preview is written by the BSO’s Artistic Director and Conductor, Manny Laureano. Look for the next Concert Preview on February 10.

Concerto for Violin in A Major, “The Turkish” by Wolfgang Amade Mozart

Mozart 1777Mozart - 1777Mozart - 1777Mozart ColorThe year 1775 was a productive one for the 19 year-old Joannes Chrisostumus Wolfgang Gottlieb Mozart, at least as far as writing violin concerti is concerned. He had written his first a few years earlier and for reasons that are still unclear wrote the flurry of four that year. After having written his first in Bb major he settled on D major twice, G major, and finally A major for this fifth and final concerto.

While this concerto is nicknamed “The Turkish” it could have gone by several names as there are many structural surprises within. First, it is unique in its first movement form. After the orchestra bursts forth with the Allegro Aperto that begins the first movement, the listener may be a bit stunned to hear the orchestra come to a halt and have the solo violin begin its entrance with a ballad-like Adagio! This daydream is over shortly and the listener is, once again, surprised to hear a theme from the solo violin that has yet to be heard unlike most concerti of the classical period which warm up your ears by having the orchestra play the theme before the soloist enters. In fact, what you hear is the accompaniment without the solo voice on top. In a way, it is reminiscent of Mozart’s overture to his opera The Marriage of Figaro which uses not a single theme from the actual opera. Imagine the audacious brilliance of having so much music in your head that you can afford to just throw themes away without the worry that you may be using up your reserve!

The other surprise is that this concerto could have just as easily been named “Symphony for Violin.” Typically, classical concerti are three movements long in a fast-slow-fast format. This one follows suit but with a twist. After the second movement Adagio we are treated to a lovely Tempo di Menuetto just as one would expect from a typical classical… symphony! As the violin dances in 3/4 time throwing in a flirtatious cadenza here and there we are, as we were in the first movement, interrupted by an unexpected Allegro this time. This Allegro is given the “Turkish” treatment. That is to say that the Austrian fascination with the exotic qualities of the Ottoman Empire reveals itself in a fast pulse and the request from Mozart to have the cellos and basses turn their bows over and strike the strings with the wood part as well as the horse hair. This percussive sound and the brusque trills from our soloist give a foot-stomping dance quality to the music. This foray into the exotic is temporary as the orchestra returns to our elegant Minuet for an ending that closes the door on our concerto as one would the door to a child’s room after having read an exciting story before being tucked into bed.

Concertmaster Rebecca CorrucciniThe Bloomington Symphony’s own concertmaster, Rebecca Corruccini (pictured, left), will be the featured soloist on this concerto. Please join us for this concert, “The Passion of Rachmaninoff,” on Sunday, February 16 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.

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The Passion of Rachmaninoff

Concertmaster Rebecca Corruccini

The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra invites you to an afternoon of great music on Sunday, February 16 at 3 p.m. The concert begins with Wagner’s Overture to Rienzi, followed by Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, performed by our concertmaster, Rebecca Corruccini. The program concludes with Symphony No. 2 by Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Maestro Manny Laureano thinks that the second movement is so romantic, you might want to bring a date! Wrap up your Valentine’s weekend with a concert of beautiful music. Ticket information can be found here.

Keep an eye on this page for Manny’s Musings, a preview of the concert music.

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Violin Auditions on February 1

The BSO invites all interested violinists to audition for a section seat, principal second violin or assistant principal (fourth chair) first violin on Saturday, February 1. Auditions will begin at 2 p.m. and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. The materials are available for download here (Violin Audition). To reserve your time, send an e-mail to info@bloomingtonsymphony.org or complete the contact form here.

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Auditions for Violin – Saturday, February 1

The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra is announcing auditions for the following positions: Principal Second Violin, Assistant Principal (first) Violin (4th chair) and Section Violin. We invite any interested violinists to audition on Saturday, February 1, 2014, beginning at 2 p.m.

The audition packet is available here and candidates are invited to send an e-mail to info@bloomingtonsymphony.org to reserve an audition time or ask further questions. Times will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

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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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