Vanska to conduct three farewell concerts this weekend

Osmo Vanska and orchestra
Minnesota Orchestra music director Osmo Vanska and musicians receive a standing ovation during a concert celebrating a Grammy nomination at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013.
MPR Photo/Euan Kerr

Osmo Vanska, who on Tuesday resigned from his job as music director of the Minnesota Orchestra, will conduct its musicians in this weekend. (Update -- Oct. 4: All shows are now sold out.)

The locked out players announced today that Vanska will conduct three independent concerts Friday and Saturday at the University of Minnesota's Tedd Mann Hall -- one on Friday and two on Saturday. The performances will feature pianist Emanuel Ax.

The possibility of a final appearance by Vanska with the orchestra he is credited with taking to new heights became the talk of the Twin Cities almost immediately after he announced his departure.

During an early afternoon teleconference, the orchestra's musicians expressed their gratitude for Vanska. They said the concerts will give the acclaimed conductor a chance to thank you and farewell to the community.

Principal trombonist Doug Wright said it was likely to be an emotional evening.

"We are honored that he is joining us," Wright said. "And at the same time we are heartbroken it will be for the last time."

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Vanska was not on the call, and the musicians say he will be unavailable for interviews.

Rehearsals for the show already have begun with Vanska on the podium.

Wright said it has been therapeutic for the musicians to sit and play together.

"It had a bizarre air of normalness," he said of the rehearsals, which have been closed to the public. "We don't experience that often any more, and that was a really wonderful feeling."

Wright said this weekend he expects the orchestra to set aside all the politicking and rancor of the past year and a half. The evening he said, will be simply about the music.

In a statement released shortly after Vanska's weekend appearance was announced, Minnesota Orchestra President Michael Henson took the opportunity to chastise the musicians for not helping resolve the lengthy and divisive labor dispute.

"We remain deeply disappointed that our musicians' unwillingness to negotiate with the Board led to the Music Director's resignation," Henson said. "However, we are very glad that audiences will have an opportunity to see Osmo Vanska conduct in this community this weekend. Our audiences deserve this concert."

Within minutes of the musicians' announcement that Vanska would join them this weekend for evening shows, all remaining tickets flew out the door. The concert hall added a show for 2 p.m. Saturday.

Find more details and ticketing information here.