THE BIKER CLARINETIST
Osmo and friends played part of the Aho Clarinet Concerto for guests in our living room after rolling up the rug and moving the dining-room table. Aho up close was pretty amazing. Once, we spotted Osmo on the elevator in his full motorcycle gear. He had ridden out to the Finnish sauna factory in Cokato to “chat with the guys.” I wondered if the drivers along Hwy. 12 knew the Maestro was riding beside them.
— Margee Bracken, Minnesota Orchestra Board member and Vänskä’s neighbor
A MAN OF HIS WORD
It’s characteristic of Vänskä to do what he said he would do. Some might recall that midway through his years here he turned down a last-minute offer to conduct the New York Philharmonic on tour in Europe, Kurt Masur having taken ill. His reason: Sometime earlier he had agreed on one of those dates to conduct the Minnesota Orchestra in a concert at a church in Minneapolis, a date that an assistant conductor could reasonably be expected to fill in. “No, I gave my word,” Vänskä said later. A fellow Finn, Kai Amberla, told me, “This is a typically Finnish gesture: ‘I have to do it because I promised.’ That’s why we are so boring.”
— Excerpted from a MinnPost article by Michael Anthony, longtime Minneapolis classical-music critic and author of a Vänskä biography
A GOOD AMBASSADOR
This is a sad thing for all of us in Minnesota, not just those of us in the classical music world. Osmo was so good for Minnesota. He carried the brand of the Minnesota Orchestra all over the world and was such a good ambassador. This is a great loss for the entire institution.
— Dick Cisek, former CEO and president of the Minnesota Orchestra
FROM THE AUDIENCE
My husband and I moved here in 2011 from a small town in Maine specifically because of the Twin Cities’ wonderful classical music, in particular what we had read of the Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo in the New York press. But we only got to see five or six conducted by Osmo before the lockout began. The rapport he had with the orchestra was so evident. I’m a musician; I play horn with the St. Paul Civic Symphony, so I pick up on that. There was such a sense of real unity that’s unusual. It takes a long time to build that. We’re heartbroken that he’s gone.
— Barbara Burt, Minneapolis