The old joke, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice,” does not apply to the Minnesota Orchestra. The concerts scheduled for November 2nd and 3rd at the famed concert hall were canceled due to a year-long labor dispute between musicians and the orchestra’s management. The music director, Osma Vanska, resigned Tuesday, October 1st, effective immediately.
The Finnish conductor had said last spring that he would step down if the Carnegie Hall concerts were canceled. These were to be part of a larger cycle of the music by the composer, Jean Sibelius. Vanska is internationally regarded as an authority on the work of Sibelius. His resignation has dealt a crushing blow to the 110-year-old orchestra.
Vanska had been the Minnesota Orchestra’s music director for 10 years. During that time, his reputation for hard work helped the orchestra achieve its highest standards both nationally and internationally. Tours included such places as the Edinburgh International Festival, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and London’s Royal Albert Hall. Each performance received high praise from music critics.
Following a concert of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at Royal Albert Hall, music critic John Allison posted a glowing review in The Sunday Telegraph. He referred to the Minnesota Orchestra as one of the “world’s most cultivated bands,” and noted that under Vanska’s direction, the Ninth Symphony was “everything one hopes for but seldom hears in this towering masterpiece.”
The ensemble was founded as the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra and gave its first performance on November 5, 1903. Their first tour was in 1907 and their New York debut at Carnegie Hall was in 1912. The name was changed to Minnesota Orchestra in 1968.
The orchestra gives around 175 concerts a year, many of them are at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. In addition to live concerts, the ensemble was one of the first to be heard over the radio. It made its radio debut in 1923 under the director of Bruno Walter. Its Friday night performances have been broadcast live over Minnesota Public Radio for over 35 years. Their recordings have been nominated for several Grammy Awards and some of the earlier recordings, under previous music directors, are have been re-issued.
Classical music has been just one of the many sides of the Minnesota Orchestra. School children learn about the different instruments and styles of music through the Young People’s Concerts. There are also community programs such as Adopt-A-School and Side-by-Side rehearsals. Outreach programs go beyond the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Throughout the state, the orchestra has partnerships with towns and cities for festival weeks, celebrating the culture, arts, and heritage of that location. The orchestra also has festivals for jazz, pop, Broadway, Big Band and Latin music. A longstanding commitment to contemporary music includes both performing it and commissioning new works.
For anyone who has tickets to concerts that have been canceled, please visit the Minnesota Orchestra website listed below and look for the section on the home page that says “contract talks.” Click where it talks about tickets to canceled concerts.
Written by: Cynthia Collins
Minnesota Orchestra – Contract Talks