Conductor Osmo Vänskä has announced he is to return to the Minnesota Orchestra as its musical director just six months after resigning from the post.
The move is the latest development in the orchestra’s slow return to normality after a crippling 16-month dispute over pay and conditions that saw its musicians locked out from their Orchestra Hall home in a bitter internal feud that provoked Vänskä’s resignation in October last year.
The appointment follows the conductor’s call earlier this year for orchestra president and chief executive Michael Henson to resign to allow ‘healing to begin’ between players and management. Last month, Henson bowed to mounting pressure and announced he would leave Minnesota after seven years on August 31 this year, a move that provoked several resignations from the board.
Vänskä, whose previous tenure in Minnesota lasted a decade, will begin his new two-year contract on May 1 and is scheduled to conduct the orchestra on May 2 and 4. He will lead ‘at least 10’ concerts in each season and has agreed to the same 15-percent cut in fees that orchestra players committed to in January this year in a deal that brought the longest labour dispute in American orchestral history to an end.
In a statement, the conductor said he was ‘very pleased to have this chance to rebuild the Vänskä/Minnesota Orchestra partnership, and I look forward to getting back to music-making with the players and together re-establishing our worldwide reputation for artistic excellence’.
In a separate statement, orchestra musicians said they were ‘truly excited’ by Vänskä’s re-appointment and described it as ‘a major step in rebuilding the trust and collaborative spirit within our organization as well as with our community’.