Minnesota Orchestra Bids Farewell to Music Director with Sibelius Celebration

To honor the 19-year tenure of their music director Osmo Vänskä, the orchestra has begun a three-week celebration with Jean Sibelius’ works

(Photo credit: Courtney Perry)


The orchestra's “A New Year’s Celebration” will continue through to January 16, 2022. 

Osmo Vänskä is conducting the festival, which presents the two versions of  Sibelius’ Violin Concerto featuring soloist Elina Vähälä, a collection of his “Humoresques,” and his seven symphonies.

VC Artist Stella Chen made her Minnesota Orchestra (MO) debut in the opening of the festival with five of Sibelius’ "Humoresques." The performance can be watched below. 




Vänskä has led MO since 2003, joining music directors Emil Oberhoffer and Stanislaw Skrowaczewski as MO’s longest-serving conductors. He will step down from the position at the end of the 2021-22 season. 

Between 2011 and 2015, Vänskä recorded all seven of Sibelius’ symphonies with MO on the BIS Records label. In 2014, the orchestra received their first Grammy for Best Orchestral Performance for their Sibelius album recordings.

According to MO’s website, in Vänskä’s first guest appearance with MO in 2000, he conducted the standard final version of Sibelius’ Violin Concerto with soloist Joshua Bell. Since then, he conducted over 300 performances of Sibelius’ music with the ensemble — “more than any previous music director.”



Held in Orchestra Hall Minneapolis, MO’s New Year’s Celebration concerts have been livestreamed online and on MO’s social media channels. Previous days’ concerts have also been recorded for future broadcasts on YourClassical Minnesota Public Radio. 

The Grammy Award-winning orchestra was first founded as the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra in 1903 and holds a long history with Sibelius’ music. Their first encounter with the composer was in 1909, when founding music director Emil Oberhoffer conducted "Valse Triste. "

When the orchestra made their first Sibelius recording of his first symphony in 1935, MO’s third music director, Eugene Ormandy, stated that it was “perhaps…the first Sibelius symphony to be recorded outside of Scandinavia.”

"It’s the beginning of a much-anticipated festival honoring the music of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius and showcasing Music Director Osmo Vänskä in his acclaimed role as 'our greatest living Sibelian,'" MO wrote on their social media

For more information and to watch the concerts, click here.