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News: Osmo Vänskä to Step Down from Minnesota Orchestra Post

News: Osmo Vänskä Fixes Date to Step Down from Minnesota Orchestra Music Directorship in 2022

It’s hard to believe that Osmo Vänskä has helmed the Minnesota Orchestra for 16 years already, having started there in 2003. But the math works out. Yesterday it was announced at the Minnesota Orchestra’s annual meeting that he will leave his position of Music Director of the Minnesota Orchestra in August of 2022… by which time it will have been 19 years for the Finish Maestro in the Twin Cities. Well, 17-plus, if you deduct the ugly 15 month lockout period in which the orchestra nearly managed to abolish itself, dealing with hard, inconvenient realities and (what seemed to be) an intransigent board.

The collaboration with Vänskä has put the Minnesota Orchestra internationally back on the map, after it had experienced something of a reputational slump in the Edo de Waart (1986–1995) and Eiji Oue (1995–2002) years. Before that, it had been led for forty years by a trio of podium greats, Dimitri Mitropoulos (1937–1949), Antal Doráti (1949–1960), and Stanisław Skrowaczewski (1960–1979). (Not to forget Eugene Ormandy in the pre-war years, 1931–1936.)

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Apart from touring, which is essential to spread the impressions of and for an orchestra beyond its natural habitat, the relationship with Swedish record label BIS was instrumental in the increased exposure. The well-regarded, well-curated audiophile label that had successfully recorded with Vänskä for years, continued to release one notable recording after another. A Beethoven Cycle early on in the orchestra-conductor relationship proved a milestone; one of the finest such achievements to-date, in a much overcrowded field. (The Fourth being one of my all-time favorite Beethoven recordings.) Recordings with Russian concert pianist Yevgeny Sudbin made ears perk. And a new, second cycle of the Sibelius Symphonies by Vänskä with his Minnesotans topped it off, not to universal (though considerable) acclaim perhaps, garnering plenty attention in the process. The team is currently engaged in recording a cycle of Mahler Symphonies which is scheduled to commence by or before the end of Mr. Vänskä’s tenure.

When he steps down, Osmo Vänskä will have been the longest-serving music director of the Minnesota Orchestra, along with founding director Emil Oberhoffer (1903–1922) and Skrowaczewski, who both also served for 19 years.

Photo courtesy Minnesota Orchestra, © Travis Anderson

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