Wynton’s Blog

The Big Band Holiday tour in Minneapolis, MN

On the drive to Minneapolis I checked out the violin concertos of Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Sibelius, and Benjamin Britten. I am working on a concerto for Scottish virtuoso Nicola Benedetti and critical listening to concertos is educational and essential for me to form the identity of this work. It is also just fun.

We played in one of my favorite halls, the Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. As we took the stage, I looked up and spotted Manny Laureano in the audience. Manny is principal trumpet with the Minnesota Orchestra and conducts the Minnesota Youth Orchestra. At 15, I attended the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro North Carolina for summer camp. Counselors and teachers always comparing me to Manny because he was playing classical trumpet and was also a minority (which was extremely rare, I haven’t been back to the camp in years so I don’t know if it still is). He is one of the world’s finest trumpeters and musicians and is an even greater person. I am always uplifted by seeing and speaking with him. We spoke about the ochre steal voice in different Concertos among other things. I left hoping to hear his youth orchestra soon, I know they can play and he is very very proud of them.

From October 2012 to January 2014 The Minnesota Orchestra was locked out. They are now back to work under new management, doing well and even more committed to their craft. The music world watched these proceedings with great interest. We know that major American cities need Symphonic Orchestras and listening halls. If communities lose the desire and ability to listen together in concentrated silence and experience profound music, throw-away music products which feature extra musical distractions like light shows, pre-recorded tracks and repetitive loops will pretty much be the only alternative.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights can be challenging for ticket sales but this Tuesday the audience was robust and attentive. After the concert I stopped by the atrium of Orchestra Hall in order to hear pianist Jeremy Walker. He is curating a new collaborative jazz series with the Hall. Our own Marcus Printup, Vincent Gardner and Ted Nash joined Jeremy’s trio in a program of his compositions as well as some standards. The room was intimate and full of good feeling. By the time the hall had cleared out this evening, people had enjoyed a full night of jazz music.

Every time we go to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area I always think about the Dakota, a classic jazz club with great food that’s been functioning for many years. Over the years, I’ve seen great musicians there, from Esperanza Spalding to Joe Henderson, but we didn’t get a chance to check it out this time around. Next time.


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