Osmo Vänskä, conductor and clarinetist
Osmo Vänskä has been Music Director of the Minnesota Orchestra for 16 years and in January 2020 has begun his new role as Music Director of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. With the Minnesota Orchestra, he has undertaken five major European tours, as well as historic trips to Cuba in 2015, at the invitation of the Cuban Ministry of Culture – the first visit by an American orchestra since the two countries announced steps to re-establish diplomatic relations – and South Africa in 2018, as part of worldwide celebrations of Nelson Mandela’s Centenary. Other highlights of his tenure in Minnesota include 19 album recordings, leading and mentoring young composers during the annual Composer Institute seminar, initiating and conducting the annual Future Classics concerts, and various educational and outreach projects in Minneapolis and other cities. Much in demand as a guest conductor, he has appeared with the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics, the Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras, the Boston, Chicago and San Francisco symphony orchestras, Toronto Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, London Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, among others. He has been Principal Guest Conductor of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra since 2014 (after serving as Chief Conductor, 1993-96) and Conductor Laureate of Lahti Symphony Orchestra since 2008 (following his previous period as Music Director since 1988). He also held the position of Chief Conductor of BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (1996-2002). A distinguished recording artist, he is currently recording all of Mahler’s symphonies with the Minnesota Orchestra. They previously recorded the complete symphonies of Beethoven and Sibelius, winning a Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance (2014). Osmo Vänskä studied conducting at Finland's Sibelius Academy and was awarded first prize in the 1982 Besançon Competition. He began his career as a clarinetist, occupying the co-principal chair of the Helsinki Philharmonic. He regularly performs chamber music, having been invited to international chamber music festivals. Osmo Vänskä is the recipient of a Royal Philharmonic Society award, the Finlandia Foundation's Arts and Letters award and the 2010 Ditson Award from Columbia University. He holds honorary doctorates from the universities of Glasgow and Minnesota and was named Musical America's 2005 Conductor of the Year. In 2013 he received the Annual Award from the German Record Critics' Award Association for his involvement in recording the complete works by Sibelius.