Minneapolis, Minnesota (July 10, 2017) — The Minnesota Orchestra announced today that Music Director Osmo Vänskä has signed a new three-year contract which will extend his leadership of the Minnesota Orchestra through its 2021-22 season and bring his tenure to 19 years―a length equaled only by founding Music Director Emil Oberhoffer and sixth Music Director Stanislaw Skrowaczewski.
“Osmo Vänskä’s impact on the Minnesota Orchestra over the course of his tenure has been exceptional,” said Board Chair Marilyn Carlson Nelson. “The partnership he and the musicians have formed is one of the greats in Minnesota Orchestra history―and there is so much more that he and the Orchestra can do together. We are thrilled to announce this extension.”
Under the terms of the new agreement, Vänskä will conduct a minimum of 12 weeks of concerts each season. Vänskä, whose current contract expires at the end of the 2018-19 season, began his tenure in in September 2003.
“When I first joined the Orchestra, I spoke often about how the Minnesota musicians were willing to work hard every day,” said Music Director Osmo Vänskä. “I am still so inspired by their work ethic, their dedication and their incredible artistry. I am proud to be part of this wonderful organization.”
Said Minnesota Orchestra Principal Cello and Chair of the Musicians’ Artistic Advisory Committee Anthony Ross, “The Minnesota Orchestra’s reputation at home and abroad has continued to grow under Osmo’s leadership, and his tenure has been unique, exciting and fruitful. Our recordings, tours and performances at home have been stellar. His artistic integrity and deep connection with our community make us all look forward to a bright future.”
Milestones of Vänskä’s Minnesota tenure have included:
- Producing 15 recordings with the Minnesota Orchestra which have launched the ensemble into a new golden age of recording and visibility. Winning particular critical acclaim were complete cycles of symphonies by Sibelius and Beethoven on the BIS label. The second album in the Sibelius set won the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance, and American Record Guide wrote of the Beethoven set, “It’s hard to think of a more distinguished Beethoven cycle by an American orchestra since the legendary Toscanini traversal of 1939.” Vänskä and the Orchestra are now at work on a Mahler symphonies project and just released a recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.
- Leading the Orchestra on five major European tours—including its debut at London’s BBC Proms—as well as a historic tour to Cuba in 2015 that was the first by an American orchestra following the 2014 thaw in Cuban-American diplomatic relations. In addition to regular appearances in New York, Vänskä has made touring Minnesota an institutional priority and he has personally led the Orchestra on four tours across the state, performing in cities including Bemidji, Cokato, Duluth, Hibbing, Marshall, Willmar and Windom.
- Initiating (in 2006) and conducting the Orchestra’s Future Classics concert, an annual performance that shares the work of the nation’s top emerging symphonic composers, as part of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Composer Institute. Vänskä has additionally led the Minnesota Orchestra in world premieres by composers including Kalevi Aho, Jennifer Higdon, Olli Kortekangas, Stephen Paulus, Einojuhani Rautavaara and Christopher Rouse, among others.
- A commitment to supporting educational concerts and programming, including a special focus on leading side-by-side rehearsals with youth, high school and college orchestras from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Havana, Cuba and Lahti, Finland.
Osmo Vänskä is the tenth music director in the 114-year history of the Minnesota Orchestra. In addition to regular guest conducting engagements with some of the world’s leading orchestras, he also serves as honorary conductor of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and conductor laureate of the Lahti Symphony, which he led for two decades as music director. He was named 2005 “Conductor of the Year” by Musical America and is the subject of a 2009 biography Osmo Vänskä: Orchestra Builder. During the 2017-18 season in Minnesota, he will lead concerts commemorating Finland’s Centennial, a world premiere by Sebastian Currier, a two-week Tchaikovsky Marathon and Mahler’s First and Fourth Symphonies.
Said President and CEO Kevin Smith, “In addition to cultivating a strong partnership with the Orchestra, Osmo enjoys a unique and dynamic chemistry with Minnesota audiences. We are very happy the Orchestra and this community will continue to benefit from his artistic leadership.”
About the Minnesota Orchestra
The Grammy Award-winning Minnesota Orchestra ranks among America’s top symphonic ensembles, with a distinguished history of acclaimed performances in its home state and around the world. It is known for award-winning recordings, as well as for notable educational engagement programs and a commitment to new orchestral repertoire. Founded as the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, the ensemble gave its inaugural performance on November 5, 1903, six weeks before the Wright brothers made their unprecedented airplane flight. The ensemble typically presents nearly 175 programs annually, primarily at its home venue of Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis. Its programs are heard nationally and internationally in award-winning broadcasts produced by Minnesota Public Radio. Previous Music Directors include Emil Oberhoffer (1903-1922), Henri Verbrugghen (1923-1931), Eugene Ormandy (1931-1936), Dimitri Mitropoulos (1937-1949), Antal Dorati (1949-1960), Stanislaw Skrowaczewski (1960-1979), Sir Neville Marriner (1979-1986), Edo de Waart (1986-1995) and Eiji Oue (1995-2002).
The Minnesota Orchestra gratefully acknowledges funding support from the Douglas and Louise Leatherdale Music Director Chair in honor of Osmo Vänskä.