Juilliard schooled, Minnesota matured

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 10, 2012 - 5:37 PM

Manny Laureano

You can't get more New York than this: Manny Laureano attended Fiorello LaGuardia High School, then went on to Juilliard.

You can't get more Minnesotan than this: Manny Laureano is the principal trumpet for the magnificent Minnesota Orchestra, lives in Plymouth and has schooled innumerable young musicians in his role as co-director of the Minnesota Youth Symphonies with his wife, Claudette.

In between the two? Staying at the Y in downtown Minneapolis, while touring with Emerson, Lake and Palmer. But we'll get to that.

So how did he get here?

"I failed an audition at Boston," he says. The job went to a Minnesota Orchestra trumpet player, which opened up a job. "I knew about Minnesota. I shouldn't say it was no surprise. I knew it was cold. But I didn't know it would be hell frozen over: 92 inches of snow the season we came. Hello, Manny!"

He'd been here once, while touring with Emerson, Lake and Palmer. It was the "Works" tour, when the band dragged along an entire orchestra to confuse the audience with a genuine symphonic experience.

"I was first trumpet for piano concerto. We played the Civic Center, and I remember when we hit the town, and it was late afternoon, and the streets were DEAD. To put the cherry on top, they put us up at the Y. Let's just say I'm glad I got the job, so I could have a second look at the town."

Thirty-plus years later, what's the verdict?

It's home.

"There's a wonderful sanity in all the right places," he says.

"I come home to a place where it's quiet, and for a musician in the brass section by the percussion, that's important. There's the availability of the outdoors, something we remarked on immediately after growing up in the concrete jungle. And good food! That's a big thing for musicians."

Really? Who knew? "Really. Being able to mollify the effects of a rehearsal with a good meal is something we treasure."

Manny says the Minnesota Orchestra has a sound that recalls its previous incarnations -- it's got a very voluptuous string sound, which harkens back to the days of Toscanini and Ormandy -- but is there anything about the orchestra that's unique to this place, this culture?

"Yes! When a guest conductor comes in, we are noted for being one of the most phenomenally cooperative orchestras. They can twist and turn us like a piece of silly putty to get the effect they want."

Minnesota Nice: It even works on the symphonic level. Although you suspect a few in the break room might make that face we make and say, Well, that was different.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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