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Vänskä resumes "celebrated musical partnership" with Minnesota Orchestra

Conductor Osmo Vänskä, who has reaped international fame and awards for his interpretations of Sibelius in particular, is to re-join the American orchestra. He stepped down last year after siding with the musicians in a bitter dispute with the organisation's management.

Osmo Vänskä.
Osmo Vänskä Image: Greg Helgeson

Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä is returning as music director of the acclaimed Minnesota Orchestra. Vänskä resigned last autumn during a lockout of musicians that lasted 16 months. The dispute ended in January, when musicians agreed to pay cuts. The conductor has accepted the same pay cut. Also in January, the orchestra won a Grammy Award for a recording of two Sibelius symphonies, led by Vänskä.

The board of directors made the announcement on Thursday. Its chair, Gordon Sprenger, said “Vänskä led the Minnesota Orchestra to great heights during his previous tenure as music director, and we are happy to be able to reunite Osmo and the orchestra to deliver outstanding musical performances for our community and to extend their celebrated musical partnership...We are delighted he is back.”

Vänskä will lead at least 10 weeks of concerts for each of the next two seasons. He said he looks forward to “getting back to music-making with the players and together re-establishing our worldwide reputation for artistic excellence.”

"A major step in rebuilding trust"

The musicians, too, are excited about Vänskä’s return, releasing a statement hailing it as “a major step in rebuilding the trust and collaborative spirit within our organization as well as with our community.”

After the lockout ended, Vänskä said orchestra President and CEO Michael Henson would have to step down for the 110-year-old orchestra to heal. Henson resigned last month but will remain in his post until the end of August.

Vänskä, 61, led the orchestra for a decade after earning an international reputation with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

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