The Minnesota Orchestra has released details of what will be longtime music director Osmo Vänskä’s last season in the job.
The 2021-22 season will celebrate Vänskä’s long tenure, a period which established the Minnesota Orchestra as a world leader.
The Finnish conductor became music director in 2003, and will welcome back performers and repertoire played in the years since.
The season launches in September with a concert featuring violinist Joshua Bell, the soloist in Vänskä’s first appearance at the orchestra as a guest conductor, and will include Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, which Vänskä conducted during his first concert as music director. The orchestra subsequently recorded all of Beethoven's symphonies under his baton.
The orchestra launches the new year with a three-week festival of the music of Sibelius, a composer with whom Vänskä has become synonymous.
It will continue to record Mahler's symphonic cycle, with Mahler's Eigth, “Symphony of a Thousand” providing the season finale in June 2022.
Vänskä will return to the orchestra in the future as a guest conductor. In a news release, he said his time with the organization has been all about collaboration.
“I have been lucky to work with people who are willing to share my ideas, and I have been willing to share their ideas,” he said. “The Minnesota Orchestra has been a big, big part of my life—and I’m so grateful about that. It’s been a great journey, and I look forward to sharing this final season with the audiences who have been an essential part of that journey.”
Vänskä is credited with raising the quality of the orchestra’s performances. He actually resigned from his post in 2013 during an acrimonious management lockout of the musicians during a contract impasse. He returned to the podium the following year, and then led the orchestra in triumphant visits to Cuba and South Africa.
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