It's nearly the end of an era at the Minnesota Orchestra, whose longtime musical director will soon be departing.
Osmo Vänskä, a native of Finland who got his start as a clarinetist in the 1970s, will step down as leader of the orchestra at the end of its 2021-2022 season, according to a Friday press release.
He has been musical director since 2003, and during his tenure led the organization to a number of milestones — including an historic tour to Cuba in 2015, when it became the first American orchestra to play there since the Cuban Revolution.
It also made history with a trip to South Africa in 2018, marking the first tour by a professional U.S. orchestra in the country's history.
He briefly resigned as music director in 2013 amid a labor dispute at the orchestra, but accepted reappointment the following year, his official bio notes.
The upcoming season, and Vänskä's last, officially kicks off in September and will include a number of retrospective events looking back at his career.
One such event will be a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, "recalling the opening night of Vänskä’s first season with the Orchestra in 2003," the press release notes.
In a statement, Vänskä said the following about his time with Minnesota's premier orchestra:
“It’s now almost 18 years ago that I started with the Minnesota Orchestra—and it has been a great journey. For me, it’s always been about collaboration. I have been lucky to work with people who are willing to share my ideas, and I have been willing to share their ideas. The Minnesota Orchestra has been a big, big part of my life—and I’m so grateful about that. It’s been a great journey, and I look forward to sharing this final season with the audiences who have been an essential part of that journey.”
Though he's officially departing as musical director, Vänskä's relationship with the orchestra will continue, with the organization saying he'll be "returning for ongoing concert engagements."
A number of other events are planned for the upcoming season, the orchestra's first full lineup since the COVID-19 pandemic began. You can see what they have in store by clicking right here.