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Classical Notes

Farewell, Osmo

Posted at 10:47 AM on October 7, 2013 by Emily Reese (1 Comments)
Filed under: Musician stories, Osmo Vanska

Osmo Vanska portrait by Eric MooreOsmo Vänskä. Photo by Eric Moore

I was there Saturday afternoon for the 2:00 performance. It seemed like half of Classical MPR was there. I guess the other half was there that night for the 8:00 show.

These were the final performances of the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra with Osmo Vänskä at the helm.

First of all, I have a pretty great job. I get to talk about classical music all the time. On top of that, I get to do a music-appreciation show, and a show about video-game music.

And I used to work regularly with the Minnesota Orchestra.

Before the lockout, Classical MPR broadcast the Minnesota Orchestra subscription concerts live Friday nights.

A major component of those broadcasts included interview clips from the conductor (whether it was Osmo or a guest) and the soloist. Although Brian Newhouse hosted those broadcasts, I did the interviews in advance, usually on Wednesdays or Thursdays.

List any accomplishment of my career, and this was my favorite task. I loved going to Orchestra Hall each week or so. And while it is thrilling to speak to the likes of Andrew Litton, Jean-Yves Thibaudet or Midori, it was always a delight to speak with Osmo.

Every time I pulled up to Orchestra Hall, it felt like Christmas day. I got to walk in the stage door, where some of the best musicians in the world hung out. Sometimes, I got to listen to them rehearse. I never would've made it to Orchestra Hall as a trumpet player, but somehow, I'd managed to get there without my instrument.

The excitement never waned.

The first time I met Osmo, it was clear why he and the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra have such a love affair. I could see the fondness — and respect — he has for them in his eyes, and I could hear it in his voice. He spoke with equal warmth about the music.

And then you saw them onstage together. Conductor and orchestra. They danced the most beautiful dance only an orchestra can create. They played as if they wanted to impress each other, but in the way you want to impress someone you love dearly by making them breakfast in bed or bringing them flowers.

The word 'impress' isn't even the right word — it was more like an eagerness to share. The best of friends — the kind of friendship that feels like family.

It's why I've wept over this loss. Many of us have. It's unbearable to imagine how the musicians and Osmo feel. For nine years, it was a dream come true.

We'll miss you, Osmo. Thank you for coming here.


Comments (1)

Just looking over the choral website and came upon your article. My husband and I were there as well - and we wept at the end. Usually that never happens - but the music was so beautiful. And I was so sad that having just rejoined the MN Chorale in order to be able to sing with the orchestra that it was not to be with Osmo (and who knows if it will happen). Thanks for your insight. I agree completely with the tone of the concert.

Posted by Judi Harvey | October 19, 2013 11:57 PM