Each June, when the Minnesota Orchestra performs at the annual Music in Plymouth event, two of the orchestra members don’t have to travel far. The orchestra’s principal trumpeter Manny Laureano and principal percussionist Brian Mount are both Plymouth residents and major fans of their hometown.
The 56-year-old Laureano is a 30-year veteran of the orchestra. A native New Yorker, he began playing trumpet in grade school, later studying at the prestigious Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for Music and Arts—which he describes as “a mini-Julliard”—and with William Vacchiano of the New York Philharmonic. After graduating from the “real” Juilliard School of Music, Laureano served as principal trumpet of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra for four years, beginning in 1977.
Laureano and his wife, Claudette, are co-music directors of the Minnesota Youth Symphonies, and Laureano also works as a guest conductor for other orchestras when his schedule permits.
Before coming to the Twin Cities, Laureano didn’t know much about the area, “except that it was cold.” That hasn’t changed in 30 years, but some things have—specifically the quality and variety of the local culinary scene, he notes. “Being able to get a good meal—from a burger to a good Indian dish—is very important,” says Laureano, who needs quality fuel, since he plays one of the most physically demanding of all instruments.
The family’s called Plymouth home since 1989. Son Max is a junior at Gustavus Adolphus, and daughter Keiko is a junior at Breck High School. So what does Laureano like about Plymouth?
“As I’m speaking to you, I’m looking onto our beautiful backyard on Mooney Lake; it is as serene and calm as one could ask for,” he says. “After a day of playing a lot of heavy symphonic music, it’s wonderful to be able to come home and relax here.”
Laureano’s hobbies include both mental and physical exertion; he’s an avid chess player and studies martial arts at Eclectic Martial Arts in Plymouth—“mostly kenpo, also jujitsu, kick-boxing and rappelling.” As a trumpeter, “being in shape never hurts,” he says. To stay sharp on his instrument, he spends about two hours a day practicing in his basement studio. He considers himself fortunate: “Having this kind of home just 20 minutes away from work is probably something no other trumpet player in a major (U.S.) orchestra has. And in this particular neighborhood, we have close-by access to shopping places and places to eat.”
Similarly, principal percussionist Mount, 42, is also from the East Coast; he grew up in New Jersey. Mount remembers hearing Beethoven’s fifth symphony as a college freshman and deciding on a classical music career. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music performance at Indiana and Temple universities, respectively. He joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 1997, after four years as principal percussionist of the Honolulu Symphony.
Mount and his wife Jill bought a home in Plymouth in 2002, after living in South Minneapolis. They have two children: son Dean, 8, and 4-year-old daughter Leili, both of whom are home-schooled. When asked what he enjoys about living in Plymouth, “the first thing that comes to mind is the bike trails; they seem to be growing all the time, which is fantastic,” he says. “We have one not far from our house.” (Mount’s also looking forward to a new trail that will connect Lake Pomerleau and Lake Camelot.) “Within a 10-minute bike ride, I can take our kids to 15 different playgrounds, which is unbelievable.”
And as the seasons change, this outdoors-loving family enjoys cross-country skiing at French Park.
Upcoming Minnesota Orchestra performances at Orchestra Hall:
The Orchestra will present fully-staged productions of the children’s classic Hansel & Gretl at 8 p.m. November 25–26, 8 p.m. November 27 and 10 and 11:35 a.m. November 30 and December 1–2.
Other holiday-themed performances in December include: Handel’s Messiah, 7:30 p.m. December 7, 8 p.m. December 10, and 7 p.m. December 11; A Scandinavian Christmas, 2 p.m. December 17–18; solo pianist Jim Brickman, 7:30 p.m. December 14; and Celtic Woman: A Christmas Celebration, 8 p.m. December 16.
The orchestra also has other performances scheduled during December. For more information, go to the orchestra's website.