Who are the front-runners to succeed Osmo Vänskä as music director, should he leave the Minnesota Orchestra when his contract expires? Here are four possible contenders:

James Gaffigan: American-born, he has guest-conducted at Orchestra Hall in recent seasons. Widely experienced and highly regarded, he is contracted until 2022 as chief conductor at the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra (in Switzerland), but may be open to options should Minnesota come calling. An exciting prospect.

Daniel Harding: English by birth, he’s a former protégé of Simon Rattle at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He serves as music director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, with substantial previous experience in orchestral leadership. He would be quite a catch, if Minnesota could catch him.

Simone Young: The leading female conductor in classical music, she brings oodles of music director experience at the Hamburg State Opera and Hamburg Philharmonic. An Australian based in London, she is a free agent orchestrally, and should be on the Minnesota Orchestra’s radar.

Barbara Hannigan: The outstanding Canadian soprano is turning increasingly to conducting, and occasionally conducts her own singing. Lavishly gifted, she is being touted as a music director in the making. A guest appearance at Orchestra Hall should be slated.

TERRY BLAIN