School Spotlight: The Breck Chamber Players

by Claire Philpott, Minnesota Public Radio
December 10, 2013
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ST. PAUL, Minn. — Today's audio features the Breck Chamber Players of Breck School in Golden Valley, Minn., led by Claudette Laureano at their 2012 Winter Concert: "Handel with Care".

  • 7:15 a.m. G.F. Handel: Sinfonia from Messiah
  • 9:15 p.m. G.F. Handel: Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah (with the Breck Choir, prepared by Lisa Doering, and members of the Breck Community on oboes, trumpets, and timpani)

In a sentence, conductor Claudette Laureano can sum up her view of this ensemble: "The Breck Chamber Players [comprise] a uniquely gifted group of high school string players who love classical music and enjoy sharing their talents with the greater Breck community."

This ensemble began 31 years ago in 1982 with just two students, but since then has had anywhere from 12 to 18 students participating every year. Rehearsing four times a week, the Breck Chamber Players perform curricular concerts, chapels and special events. In the past couple years, they have performed many recognizable great chamber works including Schubert's Mass in G Major, Vivaldi's "Spring" and Copland's Hoe-Down from Rodeo.

The Breck Chamber Players have been lucky enough to be privy to several special opportunities. Minnesota Orchestra principal trumpet, Manny Laureano, (also Claudette Laureano's husband and her co-artistic director of Minnesota Youth Symphonies) has worked with the ensemble both as a soloist and guest conductor on many occasions. (He is also playing trumpet on the Hallelujah Chorus audio). In 2008, local composer Shelley Hanson was commissioned to write a piece for the ensemble: Elegy for Albinoni was premiered by the Breck Chamber Players in Fall 2008, and subsequently arranged for symphony orchestra and performed by the Minnesota Youth Symphonies Repertory Orchestra (also conducted by Mrs. Laureano) the following spring. It has since been arranged again for wind ensemble, published by Boosey and Hawkes, and is now performed throughout the U.S.

"Professionals practice until they can't get it wrong" is one of many mottos that Mrs. Laureano throws at her students daily. (She has about 20 to 30 of these inspirational sayings — mostly her own — on a wall in her classroom). It is pretty clear from today's audio that she has ingrained that into her students. Illustrated in the clean execution of the dotted rhythms and precise articulation of the French overture-style (Popular Baroque form in two parts; the first part is slow with dotted rhythms and the second part is fast and fugal) Sinfonia and the even balance of the choir and orchestra in the Hallelujah Chorus are Mrs. Laureano's high expectations of her students and their dedication to reaching them.

Allison Cole, a student in the Breck Chamber Players and a senior at Breck School wrote a piece about her experience in the Breck string program; you can read it here.

Looking for something to do this evening? The Breck Chamber Players are performing at the Breck Strings Winter Concert at 7 p.m. in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit at Breck School, 123 Ottawa Avenue North in Golden Valley. The concert is open to the public and admission is free.

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