Eyes & Ears on Osmo: Sibelius 5 tonight @6

Mar 31, 2014

When someone shouted "Osmo, come home,” it touched off "five minutes of clamorous applause, which quickly turned rhythmic." That demonstration was in Minneapolis this weekend, says the New York Times, which adds: "since management lifted its 16-month lockout of the players" of the Minnesota Orchestra "over a contract dispute, in January, the musicians have typically been greeted as conquering if battered heroes. But the man of the moment, it became increasingly clear, was Osmo Vanska, 61, the ensemble’s former (and future?) music director, who was making his first official return to the orchestra’s podium."

Finnish conductor Osmo Vanska with the Minnesota Orchestra
Credit Greg Helgerson

After arriving in 2002, the Finnish conductor brought the orchestra to a new level of international renown and become something of superstar in the Twin Cities, where the enthusiasm was dubbed "Osmomania." But as the lockout dragged on, he threatened to resign if it interfered with a planned Carnegie Hall appearance in October, and when it did he made good on this threat. Afterwards, he led a special fundraising concert with the musicians (working unofficially as "the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra"), and conducted the music of Sibelius:  


But last weekend was his first official return, and the first time these musicians played together in the orchestra's new concert hall. So with the musicians back at work, will Minnesota get its Osmo back?

One tea leaf: Vanska implied publicly (and indicated privately) that he would not return unless CEO Michael Henson resigned - and, sure enough, Henson announced last week that he's leaving. A second tea leaf: eight Henson allies then resigned from the board in protest (that leaves 71 board members, by the way). A third: well, this is no tea leaf. Both Vanska and the new board president have confirmed that they are having "conversations" or "negotiations" about some sort of return.

Meanwhile, would you like to hear Osmo conduct Sibelius in a recent concert? Happy to help! Tune in to SymphonyCast at 6PM, when Osmo will lead the mystically expansive Fifth Symphony with the Deutsche Symphony Orchestra in Berlin.