Where’s Osmo? A world away from Minnesota…

Where’s Osmo? A world away from Minnesota…


norman lebrecht

March 11, 2014

Latest leaks from the unstable orchestra suggest they will offer the former music director a reduced role as principal guest conductor.

Osmo’s not bothered. He’s thinking about raising the next generation of musicians in South Africa.

Release below.

osmo vanska



Osmo Vänskä for the South African National Youth Orchestra’s 50th Birthday

Osmo Vänskä conducting the South African National Youth Orchestra for their 50th Birthday! Surely nothing can outclass this on the 2014 South African orchestral calendar. Rarely do South African audiences experience a conductor of this calibre in live performance. Add the green-and-gold National Youth Orchestra with a large alumni core performing alongside them and a treat is in store.

Performances, generously sponsored by Sasol, will be on Saturday 6 December in Cape Town and Sunday 7 December in Johannesburg.


  • Steve says:

    The South African concerts are in December. Doubt he’s there now. He was in Vienna a few days ago with the VSO.

  • G Ell says:

    Have to admit that I don’t quite understand the classical music journalism fixation with Vanska. Is he a conductorial revelation, the reincarnation of Mengelberg or Furtwängler or Toscanini or Kleiber père or fils? Hardly. The fixation has to be, then, over the administrative trials of the Minnesota as the embodiment of the classical music industry on a free fall? Because on musical grounds alone, I have heard superior conductors. Don’t quite understand what the fuss is about. And I am tired and bored too of finding his name all the time everywhere I look.

    • Maestro Vanska is a great conductor. Whether or not he is a precise contemporary reincarnation of Toscanini or Furtwangler, he is infinitely closer to that ideal than the dunderheads and philistines who populate the Minnesota Orchestra board of directors.

    • Pamela Brown says:

      If you lived in Minnesota and have listened to the MO over the years you might come to realize that it has not been until Mr. Vanska that they managed to define a voice that includes clarity and brilliance. He alone was able to coax them out of more bad habits than I could possibly name. What his standing is on the world stage, I cannot say, but what he did in Minnesota is remarkable. Under the circumstances, I don’t think the MO can truly come back without him.

      Just the same, being the critical soul I am, I can only wish he would program a lot more Mahler with the MO and a little less Sibelius. :-0

    • MWnyc says:

      I’ll concur: Osmo is that good, especially with the Minnesota Orchestra. They have tremendous chemistry.

      I’ve heard that, back in the ’90s, Osmo was one of the few conductors who could sell out a London concert hall on his own (meaning regardless of who the guest soloist was). Can Norman or anyone else over there confirm?

  • CA says:

    There is a special affinity between the MSO musicians and Vanska that we seem to find less and less often these days. That is worth its weight in gold, if not entirely priceless.

  • Don Ciccio says:

    One should realize that the Minnesota Orchestra has a history of making both poor and brilliant decisions when it comes to music director selection. We all know of the brilliant ones: he hiring of Mitropoulos, Dorati, Skrowaczewski and Vänskä. On the other hand, the orchestra had a choice between Bruno Walter and Henri Verbrugghen; it chose Verbrugghen. And they chose Neville Marriner over Klaus Tennstedt!!!

    OK, I know there are various factors in choosing a music director. With Marriner, at that time one of the most recorded maestros, there was hope that he will record with the orchestra, but he only made a limited number of discs. But come one…

  • Terry says:

    The “leak” to the StarTribune reporter (whose publisher is on the orchestra board) was obviously a trial-balloon, and it has already crashed and burned. And, yes, Vanska is that good. Even old war-horses sound fresh and exciting, even thrilling, under his baton. Believe me, we are all “tired and bored” hearing about the controversy, but blame Henson and the board for that, not the journalists.

  • M.A. Steinberger says:

    Any orchestra, from world-class to community level, has a collective personality. So does any conductor, from great to incompetent. Even a great conductor & a great orchestra may not suit each other at all. It is when both entities do that magical music results.

  • Sophia Welz says:

    It’s great when conductors who lead the best orchestras in the world make time for education and development, particularly in Africa and other far flung places that aren’t on the regular “circuit”. Mr Vanska has donated his fee to the orchestra so that we can give this incredible opportunity to young South Africans who wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise.

  • maestro says:

    Stop fussing with this conductor business and move on! Orchestra is a team, a group of musicians which changes from year to year. Conductors are just conductors! You seem to have tha same disease in Minnesota as they had in Lahti?!:) Do not be provincial – do not ask for more troubles. Music is a difficult instrument?!