The Minnesota Orchestra is recognized for distinguished performances around the world,
award-winning recordings, radio broadcasts and educational programs, and commitment to
building the repertoire of the future. Founded in 1903 as the Minneapolis Symphony
Orchestra, the ensemble played its first regional tour in 1907, debuted at Carnegie Hall in
1912, and has returned for regular New York performances ever since. The orchestra, known
since 1968 as the Minnesota Orchestra, has toured to Australia, Canada, Europe, the Far
East, Latin America, and the Middle East. Among its first nine music directors were Eugene
Ormandy, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Antal Dorati, Stanisław Skrowaczewski, Neville Marriner, and
Edo de Waart. In 2003, the orchestra welcomed its 10th music director, Finnish conductor
Osmo Vänskä, who guides a season encompassing nearly 200 concerts that are heard live by
400,000 individuals, and education and outreach programs that serve 85,000 music lovers of
all ages. Thousands also hear the orchestra via live regional broadcasts and such national
programs as SymphonyCast and Performance Today.
In the early 1920s, the Minnesota Orchestra became one of the first ensembles to be heard
on recordings and radio. Its landmark Mercury Living Presence LP recordings of the 1950s
and 1960s have been reissued on compact disc to great acclaim. Since completing an
internationally acclaimed cycle of the complete Beethoven symphonies and, with Stephen
Hough as soloist, a two-CD set of Tchaikovsky's piano-and-orchestra works, the orchestra
has undertaken a Beethoven piano concerto project with Yevgeny Sudbin, as well as Sibelius
and Bruckner recordings.
From its inception, the orchestra has nourished a strong commitment to contemporary
composers. It has premiered and/or commissioned nearly 300 compositions, including works by
John Adams, Aaron Copland, John Corigliano, Charles Ives, Libby Larsen, Stephen Paulus, and
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, as well as composer laureate Dominick Argento, conductor laureate
Stanisław Skrowaczewski, and Aaron Jay Kernis, who directs the orchestra's Composer
Institute. The orchestra has received 19 awards for adventuresome programming from the
American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), including four Leonard
Bernstein Awards for Educational Programming and, in 2008, the John S. Edwards Award for
Strongest Commitment to New American Music.
Osmo Vänskä, who in 2003 became the Minnesota Orchestra's 10th music director, is renowned
for his compelling interpretations of the standard, contemporary, and Nordic repertoires.
During his Minnesota tenure, he has drawn acclaim at home and abroad, leading the orchestra
on four major European tours to venues that include London's Barbican Hall, the Royal
Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Vienna Musikverein, and the Berlin Philharmonie, as well as
numerous performances throughout Minnesota.
Mr. Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra are currently recording two cycles for the Swedish
label BIS: the complete Sibelius symphonies and, with Yevgeny Sudbin, the complete
Beethoven piano concertos. Notable among earlier projects have been a two-CD set on the
Hyperion label of live, in-concert recordings of Tchaikovsky's piano concertos and Concert
Fantasia, with Stephen Hough as soloist; and a five-CD cycle of the complete Beethoven
symphonies for BIS, with each album drawing superlative praise worldwide, and two-one of
the Ninth Symphony and one of the Second and Seventh-receiving Grammy and
Gramophone award nominations, respectively.
As a guest conductor, Mr. Vänskä has led all the major American orchestras, as well as
European and Asian ensembles that include the Berliner Philharmoniker, Leipzig Gewandhaus
Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, Royal Concertgebouw
Orchestra, and Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Vänskä began his music career as a
clarinetist, holding major posts with orchestras in his native Finland. For two decades, he
was music director of the Sinfonia Lahti, which he transformed into one of Finland's
flagship orchestras, attracting worldwide attention for performances and for award-winning
Sibelius recordings on the BIS label. By 2008, when he was named Lahti's conductor
laureate, he had also completed a five-year tenure as chief conductor of the BBC Scottish
Symphony Orchestra of Glasgow.
Since arriving in Minnesota, Mr. Vänskä has again taken up his original instrument,
performing as a clarinetist in chamber ensembles at Orchestra Hall and other Twin Cities
venues, Napa Valley's Music in the Vineyards, the Grand Teton Music Festival, and the
Mostly Mozart Festival, where he also conducts each summer. Mr. Vänskä has extended his
tenure with the Minnesota Orchestra through 2015.