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BREAKING: Osmo Vänskä Returns as Music Director of the Minnesota Orchestra!

By Louise Burton l.burton@classicalite.com on Apr 24, 2014 08:49 PM EDT

Music lovers in Minnesota will be delighted to hear that Osmo Vänskä will return as the music director of the Minnesota Orchestra.

The orchestra's board of directors voted on Thursday to rehire Vänskä as music director. His new two-year contract begins on May 1, and he will lead at least 10 weeks of concerts during each of the next two seasons.

In a statement released by the orchestra, Vänskä said "I am very pleased to have this chance to rebuild the Vänskä/Minnesota Orchestra partnership, and I look forward to getting back to music-making with the players and together re-establishing our worldwide reputation for artistic excellence."

Board Chair Gordon Sprenger said, "Osmo 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."

Under the terms of the new two-year agreement, Vänskä will accept the same reduction in compensation as the 15 percent annual salary cut agreed to by musicians. According to the Minneapolis StarTribune, Vanska's salary was reported as $1.176 million in the orchestra's 2012 tax return.

Vänskä became something of a folk hero in the Twin Cities after he led the orchestra to new artistic heights, only to have a long-term contract dispute threaten to undermine everything he and the orchestra had worked for.

He resigned in October 2013, in the midst of a lockout of musicians that dragged on for 16 months, the longest in U.S. orchestral history.

At the first concert presented by the newly-reunited orchestra in February, many fans chanted "Bring back Osmo!"

The New York Times reported that a group of fans even started a "Finnish It!" campaign, urging the orchestra to rehire the Finnish maestro by wearing blue and white, the colors of the Finnish flag, at orchestra concerts. Some in the audience came with their faces painted blue and white and waved Finnish flags, giving recent concerts the atmosphere of sporting events.

Vänskä 's return will be seen by many as the final giant step the orchestra needed to make to really begin the process of recovery.  

As the orchestra's musicians said, "This is a major step in rebuilding the trust and collaborative spirit within our organization as well as with our community. We very much look forward to further collaboration with Osmo, our Board, and our community to continue to build upon the Minnesota Orchestra's 110-year legacy of artistic excellence."

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TagsOsmo Vänskä, Minnesota Orchestra, Gordon Sprenger, Minnesota

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