It is widely assumed in the media that the departure of Minnesota Orchestra President Michael Henson paves the way for the return of Osmo Vänskä as music director. Not so. Here are a number of reasons we are hearing from within the MO and across the music industry as to why this might not be such a great idea:
1 Before the lockout, the orchestra was divided over Osmo. He had a number of very close friends among the players. Others said they’d had enough and called for him to go. The lockout enforced an outward show of solidarity from the musicians. If Osmo came back as MD, the old cracks would reopen. Best to have him back as principal guest.
2 Several wealthy and powerful board members are angry – no, furious – at Osmo’s alignment with the players during the lockout and at his demand for Henson’s dismissal when it was over. They will give him a cold welcome and a hard time if he comes back.
3 The orch is not what it was. More than a dozen key players have gone to better jobs elsewhere. Better for newcomers to face a fresh face in the rostrum.
4 Osmo is not what he was. He has been in Minnesota since 2003. Now 61, he’s starting to wear the air of elder statesmen and is getting good engagements with bigger orchestras. He’d be well advised to trade on past MO laurels than to start again from scratch.
5 Sentiment aside, Osmo has acted well during the dispute. He can now do better for himself elsewhere.
6 Osmo was a cheap hire in 2003, with past jobs in Finland, Iceland and Scotland. He’s higher maintenance now.
7 ‘The public love Osmo’? True. He recharged the orch’s batteries more than anyone since, perhaps, Stanislaw Skrowacewski in the 60s. But the public is punchdrunk from the prolonged lockout and will be ready to warm to someone new.
8 There are lots of brilliant young sticks around.
9 Every single part of the damaged organisation needs to get over its past.
10 Osmo’s withdrawal would draw a thick black line beneath the recent talent drain and allow an opening for renewal.