With Michael Henson's departure from the Minnesota Orchestra confirmed and Osmo Vänskä slated to return to Orchestra Hall for a series of concerts this weekend, music fans who have been clamoring for the return of Vänskä as the orchestra's artistic director — or at least his return in some long-term capacity — are at a fever pitch of excitement, hoping that Vänskä's return to the orchestra might be announced as soon as this week. In the meantime, many are looking to make their voices heard loud and clear: they want Osmo back.
Now, Vänskä fans can wear that message as well. An entity calling itself "MN Arts" is promoting t-shirts and sweatshirts reading "Bring Back Osmo!" and (in a reference to Vänskä's country of origin) "Finnish it!" The shirts are being advertised via sponsored posts on Facebook.
I wrote to MN Arts on Facebook, asking who was behind the organization, and received this reply from the group's Chip Martin. "We're some parents and students seeing if we can raise some funds for MN Arts. Our kids have been heavily involved with [Minnesota Youth Symphony], the MN Boychoir, and lots of dance programs in the past. For our efforts to bring back Mr. Vänskä, at the request of my daughter who is a violist at Luther College now, we plan to contribute to [Save Our Symphony Minnesota] as we know they are active with the effort to bring back Mr. Vänskä."
Clarifying that the group is independent of both Save Our Symphony and the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, Martin continues, "As this is our first crowd-funding effort, we do not have any history but intend to have an 'open book' policy for those interested. We are not a non-profit, nor are we an organization. Just trying to raise some funds for MN Arts. If successful with this initial campaign, we plan to do more in the future with various arts."
The shirts are being sold through Teespring, a company that only puts shirts into production if a minimum number of orders are met. If at least 20 orders are placed for any of these designs, then no matter what happens between Vänskä and his once-and-perhaps-future employer, some local music fans will become owners of a poignant, wearable souvenir of this tumultuous season.