The Minnesota Orchestra received a rapturous reception this weekend as it returned to the stage after more than a year of labor strife. But while the applause is back, the front-office turmoil continues.
On Saturday, Osmo Vanska, the orchestra's former music director, told MPR that if the orchestra is to heal, chief executive Michael Henson must leave.
Vanska was the orchestra's biggest asset: the individual credited with elevating the ensemble to international acclaim. He resigned during the lockout after orchestra management withdrew from two Carnegie Hall shows. He believed they were important showcases for the ensemble.
Vanska remains popular with orchestra-goers. During the weekend performance, two audience members interrupted a welcome speech from newly appointed board chair Gordon Sprenger with cries of "Bring back Osmo." They were rewarded with thunderous applause from the crowd.
Since the lockout settlement, there has been a steady drumbeat from audience members and the musicians that Vanska must return. They say he alone can quickly restore the Minnesota Orchestra's musical excellence and international reputation.
Vanska pointed out in a Facebook post, that the orchestra board must first ask him to return, but clearly it's complicated: If the board does remove Henson, it looks like it has caved. If it doesn't, it makes a possible Vanska return very difficult.
Neither Sprenger nor Henson responded Monday to calls for comment. Sprenger has said the board understands audience members want Vanska back, though that was before Vanska's statement that Henson needed to go. There is no timetable for a decision and the next orchestra board meeting has not been scheduled.